For 58 years, the town of Spencer, North Carolina has held their annual Holiday Caravan Parade. A tradition that takes place during Thanksgiving weekend will be canceled moving forward because event organizers refuse to allow LGBTQ families participate.
Last year, a float sponsored by Avita Pharmacy, invited members of PFLAG to walk in the parade. The parade organizers stopped them from participating because they violated advertising rules with “signage, apparel, fliers” according to the Charlotte Observer. Those who were preparing to march in the parade had beads, rainbow designs on their hats, and black PFLAG tshirts.
On the event’s website, which claims is the “Loveliest and Liveliest Holiday Parade” a statement issued by event organizers reads:
At last year’s parade on November 22, 2017, an entry with a pre-meditated, full of hate, assumptions and lack of knowledge caused a scene that has forever impacted Salisbury historically as far as the future of the Holiday Caravan Parade.
Since last year’s parade the all volunteer board members have received hate mail, emails, and threats to protest the 2018 parade to not only their personal email addresses, home addresses, social media but also to their place of employment.
Here is the complete letter posted on the website:
While Avita Pharmacy may have decided to change their float’s message/mission last minute, there is no reason why this even should feel so compelled as to have to cancel their parade. This furthermore demonstrates that instead of having open and honest dialogue about the social issues that this community is facing, they wish to sweep the greater issue under a rug so as to not have to address it anymore.
The event’s website, which has photos of past parades and a history of the event, now serves as a landing page to smear the name of Avita Pharmacy and its representatives—all while deflecting that they simply refuse to allow members of PFLAG march in their parade.
Avita released a statement after the board’s announcement:
Donna Brown Odrosky, president of the Salisbury-Rowan chapter of PFLAG, share with the Charlotte Observer:
Since the incident in November 2017, PFLAG has asked for, and welcomed a dialogue with the Holiday Caravan board, to no avail. It has always been our vision at Salisbury Rowan PFLAG to have “a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected and affirmed inclusive of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression,” she said. “…We look forward to working with a future parade committee whose mission and vision more closely aligns with PFLAG, the cities of Salisbury and Spencer, and event sponsors.
Mayor Al Heggins posted this compassionate and heartfelt message about the decision to end the parade: