Christmas in the Park Commission Responds to Disbandment and Transition to Christmas in Cassidy

Published 9:44 am Monday, September 18, 2023

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The City of Bogalusa’s recent decision to discontinue the long-standing Christmas in the Park event and its organizing commission, opting for the new Christmas in Cassidy, has stirred a public disagreement involving city officials and the now-dissolved Christmas in the Park commission.

On August 11th, the City of Bogalusa made public the shift, revealing details following a meeting held at City Hall on August 8th. Mayor Tyrin Truong outlined several factors driving this transition, including the prior commission’s deviation from established guidelines, challenges in financial reporting, and an opening arising from the cancellation of Experience Columbia’s contract with Columbia, Mississippi. The Mayor also highlighted concerns about equipment maintenance, explicitly pointing to exposed electrical wires.

Colonel Bobby Miller, President of the now-disbanded Christmas in the Park Commission, responded to address the Mayor’s statements and refute the allegations.

“Starting with claims of members serving beyond term limits, all members except myself were newly elected and well within their 5-year term limit according to the Christmas in the Park Ordinance,” said Colonel Miller.

In response to allegations about financial reporting, Colonel Miller confirmed that all requested financials were presented to the Mayor on February 9, 2023. Mayor Truong had cleared all records and approved the commission to proceed with preparations for the upcoming season.

Colonel Miller clarified that previous administrations had already arranged for new structures, including a multi-use ticket booth, to enhance the park at no extra cost to the city. He emphasized that the wiring was scheduled and completed by contracted electricians during the summer, ensuring public safety.

He also underscored the independent nature of the Christmas in the Park Commission, operating on an autonomous budget and adhering to specific guidelines and ordinances without any financial support from the City of Bogalusa. Colonel Miller expressed concerns about the possible misappropriation of funds designated solely for Bogalusa Christmas in the Park, calling it a direct violation of the 501c4 chartered funds.

“Our sole purpose has been to create tourism, stir holiday spirit, encourage commerce, and bring our community together,” said Colonel Miller.

Colonel Miller acknowledged the challenges faced since the commission’s restructuring, including a significant flood and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these, he noted a significant increase in attendance and highlighted various attractions and activities that have been added over the years, contributing to undeniable growth.

“It’s regrettable to witness a sudden end to a timeless tradition and the disappearance of donated belongings without prior notice,” Colonel Miller said.