Suzanne Sharp of the Daughters of the American Revolution hands out American flags to children along Main Street during the city's annual July Fourth parade last year. Sponsors are short on funds and are reaching out to the community for support. (photo by Brandon Wise)

MAIN STREET — The Twilight Dance Series isn’t the only local institution asking for a bailout.

The organizers behind the Ocean Park Association’s Fourth of July Parade announced this week they too are short on sponsorship dollars and need individuals and businesses to contribute to help come up with the roughly $30,000 it takes to put on the event.

“In times like these it’s difficult to reach out to my parade community to ask for financial help,” Lori Nafshun, the parade’s main organizer wrote in an e-mail this week. “But the truth is that our Fourth of July Parade sponsorships are down and we really could use your help to ensure we have the needed funds to produce the parade this year.”

Past sponsors, she said, aren’t shelling out this year, putting the parade in a bit of a bind.

The Main Street Business Improvement Association is just one organization that has had to cut back in the recession and won’t be able to sign on as a sponsor, said Gary Gordon, the group’s executive director.

The association’s budget is based on sales tax generated by its members’ receipts, so a bad year for business leads to a tighter budget and means fewer discretionary dollars.

“We don’t have the money to contribute this year,” Gordon said.

Launched four years ago, the parade put on by the Ocean Park Association has been a hit in the community, attracting 1,000 participants and as many as 10,000 spectators to its Main Street route, Nafshun said.

It’s gained a loyal following with its quirky, informal neighborhood feel. In past years it’s featured groups like the Euclideans, that is, toga-clad neighbors who live on Euclid Street, a procession of ex-mayors, and the “New York Transplants who Love Santa Monica.”

In previous years Nafshun said she hasn’t had to ask for donations, but after seeing the success of the TDS fundraising effort, which pier officials launched in March after announcing sponsorship deals for the free concerts had dried up during the recession, she thought she’d do some outreach of her own.

Since March the Pier Restoration Corp. has raised the $156,000 needed to put on eight concerts and is setting its sights on reaching the $183,000 mark, which would allow for a ninth free show.

“When I saw that, I thought, ‘Well, we should do that too and see what happens,” Nafshun said.

Like the TDS, which received a $35,000 contribution from the City Council’s discretionary fund, Nafshun said she’s also going to ask for the council’s help. She’ll be making an appeal for $15,000 at the panel’s next meeting May 11. If it’s granted, she said the money would pay for City Hall services like police supervision during the parade.

Despite City Hall’s budget gap, she can expect support for her request from Councilmember Bob Holbrook, who has participated in the parade, driving one of the few gas-powered vehicles that are allowed in, his 1916 Model T Ford.

The parade, he said, is a fun event that draws Santa Monica locals almost exclusively.

“Yeah, we can afford it,” he said.

What the council can’t afford, he said, is continuing to let the Big Blue Bus run in the red.

“We either have to raise the fare, reduce the service or a combination of both,” he said.

The council is also expected to decide on a potential fare hike for the bus company May 11.

Donations to the parade can be made at www.opa-sm.org

nickt@www.smdp.com

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