LIVINGSTON - On Tuesday night, the Livingston City Commission faced residents in a tense meeting that addressed the fate of this year's Livingston Roundup Parade, which is the city's largest - and the state's longest-running - parade.
The parade, which began 93 years ago to celebrate the Fourth of July and kick off the Livingston Roundup Rodeo, has walked the same route through the historic downtown center for 68 years, breaking from tradition for the first time last year as a major construction project took place along the normal route.
The rodeo, one of the most well-regarded in the country, and its parade bring in $2 million to the city's 7,500 residents over the course of three days every year.
This year, for reportedly the first time, the traditional path of the parade route was denied. The proposed other route would change what floats and animals could participate in the event, and would likely take the parade traffic away from the businesses that benefit from it.
Construction will again be taking place along the original parade route, but CEO of the Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce Leslie Feigel says that it's included in the construction company's contract that work will halt for the three days with the Roundup is taking place. Feigel is leading the charge to make sure the parade stays on the right route this year.
The reason for the denial is still unclear, but the denial itself is causing some concern for Livingston residents, who say the identity of the city is wrapped up in the Roundup.
Feigel is worried about what could happen to businesses if the route changes.
"Over [68-plus] years, it's been on the same historic route. To celebrate our historic downtown, the turns are wide, the route is easy," she explains. "The businesses make more money in three days between the parade and the rodeo than they do in the entire year."
Members of the city commission declined to speak to Montana Right Now on Tuesday, explaining that they didn't want to speak on the issue too soon, and that they hoped to learn more about the situation in order to make the right call for the city.
The parade is still currently scheduled for July 2, 2019.