ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–The Annie Malone parade is looking for volunteers to “ensure the safety” of the event — even as it downplays a perception that the annual parade is dangerous.
“That day that there was a shooting, it happened three hours after the parade and three or four blocks from the parade,” said Annie Malone CEO Angela Starks, referring to the 2009 parade downtown.
In earlier years, when the parade was held in north St. Louis there were reports of shots fired around the event. One year, then-Mayor Harmon left the parade in a hurry when his police body guard heard shots fired.
“Only that one time was the pellet shooting,” Starks said, “A young girl shot a pellet gun in the air. There were not real bullets, and the police wrestled her down to the ground, and the mayor was there.”
A notice posted about this year’s parade set for May 20th downtown requests volunteers to ensure the safety and success of the event.
“Everybody’s saying it’s not safe, so we want the community to take part in that it’s a safe place,” Stark said, “It’s safe. I don’t think my husband would allow me to come down here, if it wasn’t safe.”
A Major Fundraiser
Keeping the parade safe and popular is important, because it’s a major fundraiser for the charity. Participants pay a per-car fee to enter the parade. Last year the parade raised $65,000. This year’s goal is $100,000.
“A lot of people may know Annie Malone for the May day parade,” said Vice President of Programs and Planning Daryl Wise, “Many people do not know about the programs and services we provide.”
With an annual budget of $2.2 million, Annie Malone headquartered in an the old orphanage building at 2612 Annie Malone Drive serves about 500 families each year. It’s funding comes from the Missouri Department of Social Services, the United Way, St. Louis Public Schools, donations, endowments and the parade.
Wise describes the type of service they provide as “crisis intervention.” He gave the example of a woman helped last year with temporary housing for her large family.
“She was a young mother. She was under 24. She had seven children, and out of these seven children five were under the age of five, Wise said.”
When relatives offered to put up the woman, but not her children, she turned to Annie Malone for help. The charity has a 24 bed shelter at 5355 Page Avenue, where people can stay for a few days up to a week.
“It has worked out for her,” Wise said, “When we followed up with her, we found they’re all doing well and living under the same roof now.”
The parade moved downtown in 2006 in hopes of increasing community-wide participation, but has struggled to maintain the level of support it once enjoyed when the parade was held in north St. Louis.
“People didn’t like us moving over on Market Street,” Stark said, “The African American community felt that it was their parade and they wanted us to keep it in north St. Louis.”
This year’s parade is scheduled to get underway Sunday May 20 at 1:00 p.m.
Anyone interested in participating is asked to call 314-531-0120 or visit www.anniemalone.com.