Letters To The Editor - Focus on Balloon Stampede volunteers, not parking

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I am writing to respond to the May 13 front-page article titled: "Perfect day for balloons to soar; spectators hunt for parking spot."

Over 270 local volunteers worked diligently for more than six months to stage a great multifaceted community event that was free to the public. The lead quote in the U-B by a citizen solicited after several telephone calls by a reporter read "It's pushing everybody into the (pay) parking lot."

The Stampede demonstrates our community spirit, family unity and promotes tourism. Every year the Walla Walla Stampede fills motels and draws out-of-town family members for Mother's Day. The event has something for everyone, including balloon launches; arts and craft booths; entertainment galore; athletic activities including golf, volleyball, a fun run; Nite-Glow and many other formal and informal activities. The community honors a Mother of the Year with an award.

Let's look at the facts:

  1. During the event, five ambulance runs responded under code to the fairgrounds to aid citizens. Chase Street is a vital thoroughfare for emergency vehicles.

  2. The city for several years has enforced "no parking" on Chase Street for similar activities at the fairgrounds for emergency vehicles.

  3. The Wa-Hi Future Business Leaders of America collected and retained $2 for parking in one of the lots. Another parking lot was staffed by a youth church group that retained all money received.

  4. The Wa-Hi Swim Team sponsored and kept 100 percent of proceeds from the Fun Run.

  5. All profits from the Balloon Golf Scramble went to the local area March of Dimes.

  6. Crime Watch retained all profits from the Pancake Breakfast.

  7. Money received from the Spelling Bee went to Alturas for community work.

  8. Local businesses sponsor the event.

I find it interesting the AP wire service picked up and printed a nice article about the Stampede in Bend, Ore. Nothing was said about Chase Street parking being restricted for emergency vehicles.

I think it was insensitive to have a front-page newspaper article insinuating the festival removed parking on Chase Street to enhance a paid parking lot being run by a nonprofit high school organization.

Simply put, the city restricted parking on Chase Street for safety. Why not honor the volunteers and community youths who dedicate time and energy to make the Stampede a real community event?

Did I mention the Stampede is free and open to the public?

Jerry Cummins

Walla Walla

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