Ponce Inlet, FL – Volusia County Council members vote 5-2 to extend the life of the almost ill-fated Ponce Inlet Legends of Racing Parade.
And that’s after the entire ordeal hit a few speed bumps on its way through the council chambers.
Originally, the fate of the event, which happens a couple of weeks before the Daytona 500, was up in the air after the county council announced that they would not allow it again after its 2019 run.
That’s because the county’s attorney was worried about Volusia’s compliance with the Incidental Take Permit, something that District 2 Representative Billie Wheeler said wasn’t an issue. Wheeler claimed that they have always complied with the ITP, which commits Volusia County to protect wildlife and their habitat while allowing beach driving.
But some council members, including Ben Johnson, are still not convinced that the event should stay. That’s because they believe that the event could ruin Volusia’s chance at renewing their beach driving permit in 2030, which, altogether, could end beach driving in the county.
Fast forward to yesterday’s council meeting (October 15th), the parade led to a discussion that went well over two hours in the chambers.
After Wheeler made the initial motion for the event to continue, District 4 Representative Heather Post asked the county’s legal department to explain why they decided to cancel the event after it’s already run for over a decade.
Post also mentioned that it didn’t seem to make sense that the county would proceed with the event even after they did not receive a letter of opinion from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Deb Denys, the District 3 representative, made an argument that said the county would like to continue the parade, but there would be risk involved with keeping it around, mentioning that it would not only affect the stretch of beach it already takes place on, but other stretches of the beach too.
All while people were dissenting their opinion, County Chair Ed Kelley opened up the meeting for public comment, but asked people to hurry with their comments because some council members had to leave by 4 p.m.
Following a comment from Denys about changing the parade route, Kelley called upon Rhonda Glasnak, the owner of Racing’s North Turn and organizer for the parade, and asked if they would be OK with moving the location to a different part of the beach.
Glasnak, however, said she couldn’t answer that question because the county wasn’t sure if they were going to fund the event next year.
After Glasnak’s comments, both Denys and Kelley asked the organizers if they would move the parade to a part of the beach that allows driving just for one year so they can “iron out” and legal problems associated with the old site. That was still shot down by the organizers.
County council members then dove into their own arguments and discussions about the parade and whether or not they should approve it, move it, let the USFWS weigh in or not. Kelley said that they couldn’t approve it until the USFWS made their comments. But, Wheeler claimed that they already did, also citing that Volusia has had 0 violations against their ITP in the years the parade has run.
Along with that came another session of debate and argument, until a motion was finally made. That motion, which was read by Kelley, would let the parade continue in its same spot along with support from the county. The motion passed 5-2.