CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The primary financial backer of the Belk Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade is withdrawing its sponsorship after this year, but officials with Charlotte’s annual Thanksgiving Day event say they expect to have new sponsorship soon.
“We’re not going anywhere,” says Linda Healy Vespa, executive director of Carolinas Carrousel. “We are fully confident that another company or other companies will join us as sponsors for 2013.”
Officials with Belk say they are redirecting their charitable donations to other areas next year.
“We have decided not to renew next year,” says Jessica Graham, vice president of communications and community relations for Charlotte-based Belk Inc. She said the company “will invest more of our charitable resources into our commitments to breast cancer and other educational initiatives.”
Belk was a partial sponsor for several years before becoming primary backer in 2010, when the company’s name was added to the title of the event, which celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. Organizers say it is the fourth-largest Thanksgiving Day parade in the nation, with annual attendance estimated between 70,000 and 100,000.
Vespa says Carrousel officials have known for several months that this would be the final year with Belk.
“We are grateful for the support they’ve given us,” she says. “They have been extremely generous, and we appreciate it. But they want to try some new initiatives, and we understand. Sponsorships change, from time to time.”
Neither Carrousel nor Belk officials have disclosed the amount of the sponsorship.
Vespa says since word of the changed sponsorship leaked out a few days ago, Carolinas’ Carrousel already is receiving some interest from potential backers.
“We will solicit help, but we’re in great shape for this year,” she said.
Belk’s Graham says her company “will have several new programs that will be announced in the coming weeks.”