Sean Morgan presides over a parade for his kid’s winning football team at taxpayers’ expense

My first thought when walking downtown last week to watch the Viking Victory Parade was, “Don’t people have jobs?” Hundreds of people flooded into the area and everyone seemed aglow with excitement to watch this homecoming of sorts for Pleasant Valley High’s football team, winner of the Division 4-A championship just days earlier, on Saturday, Dec. 17. The parade was thrown together that fast.

But that bah-humbug moment fell away as I watched the parade round the corner at Third and Main streets, especially the high school band, which did a great job and provided the only soundtrack for the event. For a few minutes, I felt like I’d been transported to some tiny Southern town where people worship high school football.

The parade made two loops downtown and headed to City Plaza. I heard someone from the school’s sports boosters talk about the community donations (more than $15,000) that made it possible for PV to be able to travel down to Long Beach to face off against challengers St. Anthony High School.

I enjoyed hearing the backstory, but things got weird shortly thereafter. Chico’s newly minted and very animated mayor, Sean Morgan, whose eldest son is on the team, picked up the mic to read a proclamation in honor of the Vikings’ win. It’s not unusual for Chico’s mayor to take part in ceremonies, including what journalists often refer to as “grip and grins”—ribbon-cuttings and high-profile charitable donations. In fact, in a weak-mayor system, these types of events are among the main duties. I’m personally looking forward to Morgan giving a proclamation for, say, Harvey Milk Day, Chico PRIDE weekend or Earth Day.

What was odd was when Morgan politicized the event by passing on an invitation from two state lawmakers—Assemblyman James Gallagher and Sen. Jim Nielsen—for the team to tour the state capitol. I get that Morgan is politically ambitious, but you’d think he’d have enough shame to keep that sort of brown-nosing private. Also, I can’t believe he expects us to believe that 17-year-old boys are interested in hanging out with the aides of a climate-change denier (Gallagher) and a scofflaw who doesn’t even live in the district he represents (Nielsen).

Morgan killed the mood for me and probably many others.

As I was leaving the plaza, I waved to Chico’s police chief, who was standing with a bunch of other law enforcement types. I couldn’t help but wonder how much the shindig was costing taxpayers. According to City Manager Mark Orme, the price tag was about $900. The largest expense was for the six maintenance workers ($694.26) who put up and removed barricades and monitored the street closures.

Orme noted that Chief Mike O’Brien was on vacation and that all but one of the other officers and park rangers present were already on duty. That extra cop cost approximately $200. Everyone else was a volunteer. Orme’s figures didn’t factor in the presence of Cal Fire or California Highway Patrol (state agencies).

So, less than a grand. Was it worth it? Maybe. Then again, you might change your mind when your kid’s team wins but doesn’t get a parade.