Wake Forest community members upset by Christmas parade cancellation

Wake County News

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) — After announcing last week their Christmas parade would go on, Wake Forest has now decided to cancel it.

The cancellation is similar to Garner’s and involves planned protests surrounding a confederacy float. The float’s been in the parade for decades.

“It’s just not right, it’s not right,” said Robert Cooper.

Cooper marched with a sign through downtown Wake Forest on Thursday to protest the cancellation.

“I’ve lived here all my life and we grew up with it and we never had a problem before,” he said. “The kids love it and the town benefits from the parade, all the merchants, you know.”

“It’s just such a fun, exciting parade day. They line up at 10 a.m. The parade starts at 1 p.m. We have a lot of people, so it’s just such a big, fun day for everybody,” said Darlene Stroud, owner of Sweeties Candy Shop.

Town leaders originally said the parade would go on after Garner canceled theirs last week.

Garner’s town manager said they canceled due to threats of disruption surrounding a confederate float in the parade.

“I’m just so sad for all the children that prepare, all the people that make the floats,” said Stroud.

Wake Forest called it quits after town leaders say they received information large groups of people on both sides of the confederacy issue were planning to protest.

“We had information that there were groups that literally wanted to use our parade as a platform to promote a political agenda,” said Bill Crabtree with the town of Wake Forest. “At what point do the risks outweigh the rewards, and we felt like we had reached that point.”

Town spokesperson Bill Crabtree said they tried to find solutions, but ultimately the town didn’t have enough time to get the logistics in order to guarantee a safe parade for everyone.

“Obviously, this has not been a popular decision. We believe it was certainly not popular but the right decision, it was the safe decision,” said Crabtree.

People CBS 17 spoke with said they worry this will set a precedent for canceling future events.

“You get a few people who don’t like something so they’re going to destroy it for everybody else,” said Cooper.

The town says they’ve planned meetings to prevent this from happening again and expect to have a Christmas parade again in 2020.

“No one wanted the decision to come to this. No one wanted to cancel the Christmas parade,” said Crabtree.

Crabtree said he wasn’t comfortable discussing whether they talked to the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy about pulling out of the parade.

CBS 17 reached out to the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy for this story, but we have not yet heard back.

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