Parkland’s free events cause headache for staff, officials

Parkland staff and city officials are worried by the growing trend of residents who have registered for city events not showing up on the day, thus denying wait-listed residents a chance to attend the event.

According to Parks and Recreation Director Scott Davidoff, about 14 to 20 percent of registered people fail to show for events organized by the city. The situation is no different in the case of library events too – 15 to 20 percent of those who register don’t bother to turn up.

“The wait list for some of the events organized by the city, like the egg hunt, could be 50 families,” Davidoff said. “There are a number of families who get left out. We don’t want that to happen.”

Davidoff said staff had come up with two ideas to stop people from considering city-organized free events as “throwaway events.” “If someone fails to turn up without giving 48 hours notice, the city could consider not letting them register for another program for the next three months. The other option is to charge a small fee of $5. There are costs associated with the programs.”

“I don’t want to see us charging for events,” Mayor Michael Udine said. “All these things are basically money-losers. I would like to see what other cities are doing.”

“A lot of cities have done away with events,” Davidoff said. “Some cities have started charging fees. We have had to turn away people on the wait list even though people are not coming. We would like to see that change.”

Commissioner Jared Moskowitz was not in favor of either of the options put forward by staff. “I don’t think we should be charging a fee. Are we going to punish people for not showing up? I think we are going to get calls from our residents. The only way out would be to ask residents to register twice.”

The egg hunt, hayride and bonfire, and gingerbread house decorating are among the city special events that require advanced registration as space is limited. The monthly Parkland concert series, farmer’s market, fishing derby and movies in the park are also free events but do not require registration.

With city officials not being able to find a way around the tricky situation, staff have been left with the task of coming up with the most workable solution. Among the upcoming events are Parkland Play Day (Sept. 24, no registration required), Hayride and Bonfire (Oct. 14, registration necessary), and the Parkland Dash 5K run and 2 Mile Fun Run / walk (Oct. 16, registration required).

For details about Parkland’s special events, call Special Events Coordinator Colleen O’Dea at 954-757-4120 or email codea@cityofparkland.org.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/parkland/fl-cspf-events-0915-20110919,0,5395747.story?track=rss

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