CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After being canceled in Charleston last year, then abruptly moved to South Charleston, the annual Funeral Parade will return to Capitol Street in Charleston -- if planners have their way -- Aug. 17, a few weeks earlier than its usual appearance over the Labor Day weekend.
That has upset some in South Charleston, because the parade would compete with South Charleston's annual Summerfest.
"I'm dumbfounded that they'd do this," said Bob Anderson, executive director of the South Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It's the same night as South Charleston's Summerfest. I don't know why they're doing that.
Summerfest is held in South Charleston Aug. 13-18, with the bulk of the entertainment falling on the weekend.
"The Funeral Parade is always during the Labor Day weekend," Anderson said.
The Funeral Parade was part of Charleston's annual Sternwheel Regatta for almost 30 years and has lingered even after the Regatta was cancelled in 2008.
Last year, the Great Kanawha River Navy, the organizers of the parade, canceled the downtown event after a major sponsor, restaurateur Scott Miller, backed out over concerns of low attendance and the parade conflicting with the WVU-Marshall football game.
No other sponsors were found to take his place, but the parade was suddenly back on and moved to South Charleston.
In a Gazette story last August, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones was glad the parade would be held, regretted it wasn't in Charleston, but said parade organizers never asked the city for help.
The parade's grand marshal, Keith Pickens, didn't think the move was permanent. Last year, he'd said parade organizers hoped to bring the event back to Charleston, possibly as part of FestivALL.
In that same story, Pickens told the Gazette, "We wanted to keep it on Capitol Street. It's a historic location, and it's always been on Capitol Street."
Anderson thought the whole thing sounded funny to him. He said South Charleston rescued the event, and he thought they put on a fine parade.
"We had a good year last year. Over 300 people participated in our parade," he said.
He said even if Charleston and parade organizers planned to take the parade back, somebody should have called him. "Nobody called me," he said.