Waukesha Chamber Hijacks Christmas Tree Lighting!

Did Catherine Huelsman bully her way into taking over WDBA event that set 2013 Guinness World Record?

Today’s Waukesha Freeman has a story about how the City of Waukesha Chamber of Commerce (CWCC) simply “took over” the annual Waukesha Christmas Tree lighting event that originated and was operated by the Waukesha Downtown Business Association (WDBA) since 1999.

Catherine Huelsman, President, Board of Directors CWCC sent a 09-04-2014 memo (See Below) to WDBA members indicating that her organization will be running the tree lighting – not the WDBA!

In part the memo (attached below) states:

Working with the property owner and City Hall, the City of Waukesha Chamber (CWCC) will be hosting the 2014 Christmas Tree Lighting on November 21st as the “official” city-wide start of the Christmas Season.”

Apparently Mayor Shawn Reilly and city officials responsible for issuing event permits to organizers endorse the kind of bully tactics exhibited by Catherine Huelsman and the CWCC? Huelsman is quoted in the Freeman stating, “…the change was made because the CWCC is already running the city’s Christmas parade this year, so it made sense to pair the two events with the same organization.”

What will Catherine Huelsman and the CWCC, with the support of Mayor Reilly and city officials, take over next?

Fiesta Waukesha? Friday Night Live? The Farmers Market? The Independence Day Parade?


Is it About the Money, Power or Both?

The 2013 Christmas Parade was anything but organized with the BIG surprise and last minute notice to parade participants that they had to pay to be in the parade!

The CWCC claimed to lack the necessary funding to run the event, so they devised a plan to charge parade participants – even organizations like the Girl Scouts and Military Veterans. Girl Scout floats being pulled by trucks that were donated by local businesses were advised by CWCC representatives that they either had to cover up the business signs on the trucks or pay an additional $100 to participate in the parade.

A column run on 11-27-13 by James Wigderson clearly outlined the frustration and anger of Girl Scout leaders, especially how on the Saturday before the parade, one Girl Scout leader was told that they needed a permit in order to solicit change from the crowd – even though they noted on their application they were collecting money for charity. Some would have us forget these important facts.

Jim Hahn, Executive Director of CWCC stated in a local blogger forum that “We will publish a COMPLETE accounting of the parade afterward on the Chamber web site.” I couldn’t find any such documentation, but I heard that Mr Hahn was paid as much as $3,000 for running the 2013 parade.

Funny that in 2012 the WDBA ran the Christmas parade for the then dissolving BID and it was run by volunteers – Earning the BID revenue…


Parade Fees Increased for 2014

This year the parade fees have gone up. Activities normally attendant to parades with non-profit organization participants, like collecting donations and displaying businesses that sponsor them are prohibited. Obviously to eliminate the problems they had last year with the Girl Scouts. It appears that if there isn’t a way to charge the activity it will simply be eliminated.

I am left wondering how Much will it cost to participate in the Christmas Tree Lighting?


Letter from Catherine Huelsman:

Catherine Huelsman Letter - Tree Lighting

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