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No Bands, No Hull Street Parade

Chalk one up for the Grinch. Organizers have canceled the 12th Annual Hull Street Holiday Parade after scheduling conflicts left them without any high school marching bands available to participate.

"We can't have a parade without any bands," says Lynwood Austin, the parade's chairman. "It's very disappointing for the people to come to a stumbling block like this. It was a big boost for the community and the young kids."

Turns out the marching bands had prior engagements. The parade, originally scheduled for Nov. 17, would have been on the same day that local band directors are slated to attend the Virginia Music Educators Conference in Norfolk. Between football playoffs, auditions, the Ukrop's Christmas Parade and another parade in Petersburg, scheduling the Hull Street parade just proved too difficult.

By Austin's estimate, the event usually draws around 2,000 people, although that number was doubled last year. The route runs down Hull Street from Commerce Road to Jefferson Davis Highway.

"They just wanted to see if [Mayor L. Douglas Wilder] would really ride a horse," says Eric Anderson, one of the parade's organizers.

Past grand marshals have included Wilder, Richmond Police Chief Rodney Monroe, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Jewell-Sherman and Channel 12 news anchor Sabrina Squire. This year negotiations with Grammy-winning R&B artist D'Angelo to be the parade's grand marshal looked promising.

Austin, 67, remembers Hull Street parades from childhood. As president of the Hull Street Merchant's Association, he helped resurrect the tradition 12 years ago.

"We thought this would weld the businesses and the community back together," he says, and "give a little appreciation back for participating on Hull Street."

Is there any hope for next year?

"That I can not answer," Austin says.

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