We remember when all people wanted for Christmas was their two front teeth. Now some North Carolina cities have to add a new wish to their list: No controversial conflict.
Unfortunately, controversy has led to the cancellation of two Christmas parades in the state as of this writing. But though it’s unfortunately, we agree with authorities that the cancellations were necessary for public safety.
Garner, a Wake County town of around 30,000 residents, cancelled its Christmas parade, scheduled for Dec. 7, back in November. Wake Forest, also a Wake County town of about 30,000, cancelled its Christmas parade — planned for Dec. 14 — on Wednesday. Both cancellations were traced to objections to the participation of chapters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and fears that their inclusion might lead to violence.
“The Town is especially concerned about the possibility of bystanders including children being caught in the middle of disruptive actions,” Garner officials announced on the city’s website.
Wake Forest officials said they’d received credible information that “extremist” groups, in their phrasing, were planning to attend the parade. The groups represent differing opinions about the meaning of the Confederacy and whether it should be honored.
No one from any of these groups made threats, but city officials feared that they would clash at the parade and that the situation could get out of hand.
They’re right to be cautious. Just as in the case of Winston-Salem’s Confederate statue, removed from downtown in March, public safety must come first.
SCV, as well as other groups associated with the Confederacy, has participated in Christmas parades in the past, wearing Civil War-era costumes and carrying banners that included images of the Confederate flag.
Many of us have warm memories of Christmases past with parades and seasonal displays that seemed to bring the community together.
But life has become more complicated since then. It’s hard to unite people on a dividing line, and there’s nothing more divisive than the issues that led to the Civil War. Though Confederate-related groups have the same right to participate in government-sponsored activities that other groups do, knowing how controversial their views are, the better part of valor might be to step down, as it has done elsewhere.
No Confederacy-related group applied to walk in the Sanford or Hillsborough Christmas parades this year, though those parades are sponsored by private groups, and organizers would have turned them down.
“We’re very concerned with First Amendment rights, but also with trying to give a time and place for that kind of thing without taking away from a very enjoyable community event,” Kim Tesoro, CEO of the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce, said. She said parade organizers would have viewed a pro-Confederate group as “inciteful,” and deemed it inappropriate.
We’d like to see people unite in the spirit of the season — peace on Earth, good will toward (all) men (and women). And some have found creative ways to make Christmas bright and magical without raising controversy. This includes residents of the Washington Park neighborhood, who for the fifth year running have organized Shine-A-Light on Hunger, an event to benefit Sunnyside Ministries, featuring refreshments, music and carriage rides, from 4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Sunday. Alleviating childhood hunger, especially this time of year, is definitely a value that should unite all of us.
For more information, go online to https://volunteer.loveoutloudws.com/event/detail/?event_id=62694