GARLAND — The highly-anticipated Garland Rotary Fair and Parade will not be held this year, at least not with that name.
Andy Chused, District Governor for Rotary International, said the group recently formed to revive the Garland Rotary Club will have to complete all the requirements necessary before using the Rotary name in any way.
“They are not a Rotary Club, because the things have not been done,” said Chused. “You can’t get a Rotary Club in two weeks.”
The Garland Rotary Fair and Parade, a fixture in the town for more than 30 years, was the subject of a special-called session last Thursday. The Garland Board of Commissioners met to consider holding “Garland Community Day” in the Rotary Fair’s place Oct. 5 — the day is traditionally slated for the first Saturday of October — but no action was taken following the announcement by Garland resident Pearl Smith that a new Rotary Club had been formed in the wake of the longtime club’s revoked charter.
Smith said she believed Rotary Day could proceed as it always has, while Garland Mayor Winifred Murphy said she did not think that was the case, thus the reason to consider a “Community Day.”
Chused said Tuesday the annual event will not be able to bear the Rotary name and its seal.
“They cannot use the name ‘Rotary’ because it is a trademarked name, and they’ve been told that,” Chused said. “They were told that after the (Thursday) meeting. I talked to (Murphy) the morning before the meeting and I told her that at that point in time. The other group, I talked to them after the meeting and told them the same thing, so they weren’t aware of it at the meeting because I had only told Mrs. Murphy that morning.”
A six to eight-month timeline was discussed at the Thursday meeting and Chused, who was not present at the town session, said it could take that long, possibly shorter, depending on the work the new group puts in. There are 26 charter members and committees were still being formed and officers named, Smith said at the end of last week.
She said there was a new charter with a new number attached to it. Chused said the group would have to earn a charter.
“It can be that long, it just depends on if they follow what they have to do,” said the District Governor of the timeline. “It can be up to six to eight months, it just depends on that — but they do not have a charter at this point in time.”
Last year’s 31st annual Rotary Fair and Parade featured a full slate of activities, including a lengthy parade, tribute to veterans, a plethora of games, including the third annual cornhole tournament, and vendors and a street dance to close out the night.
Town officials have touted the event with attracting thousands of people, putting the town on display and allowing vendors a good chance to advertise themselves and bringing outside revenue into the southern Sampson town. Likewise, the mayor and board members praised the Garland Rotary Club for its contributions to the community over the years, which have included a park, a fountain and a clock, as well as annual scholarships given to three local high schools and donations to non-profits.
Sandy Norris, longtime president of the Garland Rotary, coordinated a great deal of the activities for the big event every year. Members of the new group said Norris would be involved in the Rotary revival. Reached Tuesday, Norris said she was not involved in the new Rotary Club. Norris said she “did not feel up to it,” citing arthritis.
Norris has previously pointed out just how important the annual event is to Garland. The town board gave her a special recognition after last year’s event, lauding her for her contributions to the town’s Rotary Club and its flagship festivities.
“It’s a good family outing and it has brought in revenue because people visit the town and they purchase things,” Norris has said. “It’s brought in new business for merchants over the years. It doesn’t cost anything to be here and it’s just a fun time and people look forward to coming every year. I think it’s just put a spot on the map for us.”
The Rotary Club actually lost its charter in June and Chused said the new group will have to work its way back.
“There are certain things you have to do as a Rotary Club and they weren’t meeting those things, so the charter was pulled at that point by Rotary International,” Chused said. “They have to have certain meetings, they have to have a sponsor. There is a whole booklet of things they have to do that has to go through approval and eventually has to be approved by the Board of Rotary International. And until that is done, they are not a Rotary Club.”
Rotary Clubs losing their charter is something that happens from time to time, but Rotary International endeavors to prevent it from coming to that, he said. For a town club to lose its charter and then immediately seek a new one is not seen often.
“It’s very unusual,” said Chused. “Just because normally (when a charter is lost) there is not enough people and you have to have 20 people to charter a Rotary Club. When there are less than 10 people and all of a sudden you become 26, it’s not just a matter of 26 people signing up. It has to be proven to Rotary that there are 26 people interested in being Rotarians, so that’s why it doesn’t happen overnight.”
Smith said the 26 “charter members” would have to form committees and then decide when they would accept members, and who they would bring in. Murphy said the group, in whatever form it takes, should be inclusive and devoid of politics.
“It’s just more division,” said Murphy.
The matter of the October event will be further discussed at the town’s Sept. 10 meeting. Commissioners have talked about the need for the annual event, and Rotary, to continue on in Garland.
“The Rotary Club in Garland has been a large backbone for this town for over 30-some years, and I do not want to see Rotary Day taken away from the town of Garland,” said Commissioner Michael Toler.
Chused doesn’t either, but proper steps need to be taken.
“We want them to have a parade and we would like a Rotary Club in Garland, but you have to do it according to the rules,” Chused said. “They’ve been given the booklet as to what they need to do.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.