OGDEN -- A veterans group participating in today's Pioneer Days Parade says this year's run will likely be their last.
Local members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart -- a group of retired military members who received Purple Hearts during their service careers -- have a float in today's parade. However, the $75 price of admission will probably keep them from entering one in the future, they said.
Ogden resident and former Marine Jay Wells is a member of the MOPH and said his group has participated in the parade for years. But only recently have they been charged to participate, he said.
"Last year was the first time we were ever charged, and it was $25," he said. "We were charged again this year, but this time it was $75."
Parade Director Bryan Schade said it has always been the parade's policy to charge all participants, with the exception of local school groups and religious groups, which are allowed to enter for free.
He said in recent years, parade officials have become more diligent in collecting entry fees, which could explain why the MOPH group has not paid in the past.
"We have to charge folks because this parade, just like anything else, costs money to put on," Schade said. "I am a veteran myself, so I can understand the position. But when you have a parade like this, there are expenses that are incurred and you have to pay for them."
Wells said he wouldn't mind paying for entry in the parade to help recoup some of the cost, but only if all groups participating were charged.
"Any church group, whether it's an LDS ward or not, should be able to pay to be in the parade," Wells said. "Same thing for schools. We don't necessarily mind paying, but if the city really needs this money they are charging us, then they should charge everyone."
Three other military groups are participating in this year's parade: Hill Air Force Base's Honor Guard, Hill Vice Commander Col. Kathryn Kolbe, and a group of veterans from Marriott-Slaterville.
Valerie Burke, public affairs community relations chief at Hill, said the two Hill groups were not charged to enter the parade.
It could not be determined if the Marriott-Slaterville veterans group had to pay a parade entry fee.
Cindy Simone, owner of the Kokomo Club in Ogden, said she has spoken to several parade officials, asking them to allow veterans to participate for free, but to no avail.
Simone said she will wait at the end of the parade route for Wells and the rest of his group, hopefully with $75 in hand to offer to his group.
"I'm going to get a big bucket and try to collect 75 bucks from parade visitors and then hand it to them when they finish," she said. "I think these veterans have already paid their price, so they deserve a free ride in the parade."