City of Beaumont, TX Unfairly Blamed by Rally Organizers
The Lace, Grace and Gears Motorcycle Rally was the first event permit ever denied.
Lace, Grace and Gears Rally was held September 30 - October 2, 2016. Registration sales began in April 14, 2016 promising attendees a "Record-Breaking Women's Motorcycle Parade" through Downtown Beaumont, TX to Ford Park, poker runs (to play poker in real casinos) to L'auberge du Luc and Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, a ride to Delta Downs to get in on the dog racing action, and a motorcycle parade of lights with professional on-site security. Vendors were promised the options of inside or outside booths to be "where the action is."
Unfortunately, none of which happened.
Layne Neuenfeldt, organizer of Lace, Grace and Gears, first contacted the City of Beaumont in March, 2016 to notify them of the upcoming event. But due to the Gift of Life 5K Color Rush Run, which was scheduled October 1, city officials found a conflict.
"We told her in March that there was no way she could hold an event with a parade through Downtown Beaumont that weekend," city sources shared. "The Gift of Life Run is an annual event. Those organizers apply for their permit one year in advance each year to assure approval for the Run."
"Ms. Neuenfeldt wanted to have a motorcycle parade right through the center of Downtown. We couldn't have motorcycles and runners crossing paths."
Lace, Grace and Gears organizers didn't contact city officials again until August.
"We immediately requested a meeting with Ms. Neuenfeldt but she wasn't able to come in until August 17. Ms. Neuenfeldt presented a route that avoided the runners, but crossed over multiple railroad crossings and went through major intersections. She also expected the parade to involve floats and cars. We explained to her the Police Traffic Division needed to work with organizers to create a route so we would know how much manpower was needed and how many intersections to block off with either officers or barricades so the parade could move safely, swiftly and without being broken apart. We also could not escort a parade over railroad crossings because, well, we can't stop a train," a source at the city shared.
"We offered to sit with her or anyone from the committee to help them carve out a route. Ms. Neuenfeldt was made aware at that time the City needed the number of participants, the parade route and payment for the permit by September 2," stated Sharae N. Reed, Senior Assistant City Attorney for the City of Beaumont.
On August 23 city officials reached out to Ms. Neuenfeldt because they had not heard back from her.
"Over the coming weeks we offered numerous times to help make this event happen. We scheduled meetings with her for which she did not show up. She promised to deliver her paperwork time and again, but did not. We exchanged over 15 emails and countless phone calls," city sources shared.
"The Police Department contacted Ms. Neuenfeldt on the due date, September 2. More than anything, our city wants to encourage tourism and work with any event organizers. Keep in mind, the only things our offices needed were Application for the Permit, the parade route, the number of participants and payment for the permit of $250."
On September 2, Ms. Neuenfeldt turned in the Application but not the parade route. She asked for more time to get her supporting paperwork in, so the officials extended the deadline to September 6. When they did not hear from her or anyone associated with the rally, her Application for a Parade Permit was denied on September 7, only 23 days from the Rally.
Meanwhile, the rally organizers were still collecting registration and vendor fees.
"Without a parade permit, we cannot issue vendor permits or food vendor permits. It would have been unfair for her to profit if she knew she hadn't received the proper permits for the event. Once we heard she was taking registration money from attendees and money from vendors for an event that most likely wasn't going to happen, we grew quite concerned."
In a last minute scramble, organizers of the event reached out to Crockett Street Entertainment District for help. Since Crockett Street is private property, rally organizers could avoid permits within the city for vendors and food vendors and still hold the event within the city limits.
Organizers also reached out to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department for help with the parade. The Sheriff's Department designed a parade route mostly outside the city limits. They coordinated with the city officials for the very short, remaining section that ran within the city limits.
City officials were able to provide documentation to this publication to support these statements and this timeline.
But Ms. Neuenfeldt has blasted the city officials on social media with a different story for their lack of cooperation...
"Our experience with the Beaumont PD hinged upon the bizarre. We complied with every requirement they gave us in order to ensure that both the runners and our sisters would be safe. At one point in my dealings with the PD I seriously had to ask the question 'is the town of Beaumont anti-bikers or simply anti-women?' Working with this Police Department was anything but pleasant."
"The (parade) permit was turned down because of Beaumont PD manpower," Layne wrote.
"They did not have the manpower because of the Gift of Life event, even though the parade was not near Crockett Street. So, the Sheriff's Department is doing it for us. We were told we need a permit if we were riding the parade in the city. We were turned down because of the other event and opted to have the parade outside of the city limits. We got the okay from the Sheriff's department. We did not want it downtown because we preferred a route where there was as little stop and go as possible because the volume of motorcycles."
"There were many extreme challenges working with the powers-that-be in Beaumont - from the Mayor's office (a woman who showed absolutely no interest in either being our Grand Marshall in the parade or simply saying a few words to welcome us to her city) to the Beaumont PD."
But according to the Mayor's office, the Mayor had a previous commitment to appear at the Annual Color Run and was unavailable for the motorcycle parade. Also, a request wasn't received in time to be given any consideration.
"Our policy is a two-week notice for any appearance requests for the Mayor or City Council Members. Even though the Mayor was unavailable, I'm sure we could have asked a council member or the Mayor-Pro-Tem, had we received more than a couple of days notice."
Amber Waybright, owner of Rockin' Mama's Kitchen & Shaved Ice was a vendor at the rally. She posted this angry comment on social media.
|Layne Neuenfeldt addressing the rally that the parade of|
621 motorcycles fell short of the world record, but said
that it had achieved a national record. But she has
declined to answer what record that is.
This publication has made numerous requests for documentation from the organizers, specifically to Ms. Neuenfeldt, only to receive this response.
"I have nothing to hide and am under absolutely no obligation to answer (the press). Email the information (to you?). That's a laugh."
The City of Beaumont had the opposite response...
"We were glad to see that some solution was found," Senior Assistant City Attorney Sharae N. Reed said. "Had Ms. Neuenfeldt simply worked with our city and tourism bureau, as we repeatedly invited her to do, we could have assisted securing better hotel rates for visiting attendees, security for the event and the parade through the city, just as she had promised to deliver to the attendees."