Madison Regatta Inc. and the city of Madison are planning changes to the annual Madison Regatta Parade starting this year.

Regatta Festival chairperson Amy Ralston outlined the changes at the Regatta's monthly general membership meeting Wednesday.

Among the changes are charging for entrants, limiting the number of entrants and pushing back the starting time by an hour.

This year marks the first time the city has been in charge of the parade after 40 years of Regatta control. The change was made because of insurance concerns. While the city of Madison has final say, it has left Ralston to iron out the details.

As a result, Ralston has been working to improve the parade while sticking to the guidelines set forth by the city.

"There is going to be a lot of trial and error this year," Ralston told the membership. "We're going to be putting a new face on the parade."

One of the biggest changes is that there will now be a $50 fee for groups and businesses to enter a float in the parade. The exception will be nonprofit groups and schools.

In the past, there was no cost to enter a float, one only needed to sign up. As a result, Ralston said, the parade tended to grow out of control.

With the $50, Ralston feels that the Regatta can lower the number of entrants while also putting on a more entertaining show. She has already been in contact with several groups to see if they want to enter the parade.

In addition, the Regatta has set a deadline of June 20 to enter a float, something that Regatta has not had in the past, and has done away with the "card system," mailing cards to each entrant for registration. Now, entrants can register online at or by visiting the Regatta office on Vaughn Drive when it opens in late May or the studios of WORX radio on Telegraph Hill Road.

"We've done away with the card system because it just cost too much money," Ralston said. "This is what the Pegasus Parade in Louisville does and we just decided to copy that in an effort to save money."

Another change, which has not yet been approved, is moving the starting time of the parade back an hour to 7:15 p.m. Ralston said that the extra time should benefit everyone involved.

"It will help with getting people and boats off the river and it will help with the heat," Ralston said. "And since we expect it to be a shorter parade it shouldn't interfere with the music on the river."

The theme for this year's parade is "America: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." The parade date is Friday, July 5.

For more information contact Ralston at

In other business:

• Regatta President Kim Washer announced that the organization is the final stages of approving a title sponsor and plans on making the announcement at a press conference in late March.

• The first Regatta Festival event, the car show, will be held Saturday, May 25 in front of Crystal Beach pool.

For more information, visit

• The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3, at the VFW Post 1969.