WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) — At Sweeties Candy Shop, they’re gearing up for one of Wake Forest’s biggest sugar rushes of the year.
“It’s one of our biggest events and we have a lot of visitors,” said Darlene Stroud, owner of Sweeties Candy Shop.
Stroud says the Christmas Parade is one of their best times for visibility, which is why she was worried when she heard Garner canceled its annual parade.
“Very concerned, very concerned. Kept watching the downtown Wake Forest page to see any announcements or anything that was going on,” she said.
Garner town leaders canceled theirs after citing concerns for a disruption.
CBS 17 found out it was due to social media posts regarding the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy having a float in the parade.
“Out of safety and for the just the image of Garner, that’s not what we wanted to portray, so we thought it’d be best to cancel the parade,” said Garner Town Manager Rodney Dickerson.
The decision upset community members who awaited the celebration.
“I think that would be sad if they canceled it because I think everybody looks forward to it,” said Wake Forest parade participant Rhonda Lewis.
Wake Forest town leaders say the Sons & Daughters of the Confederacy have participated peacefully for more than two decades in its parade.
The town said in a statement:
Make no mistake about it – the Town of Wake Forest is extremely sensitive to the emotion the confederate flag stirs among those on both sides of this issue. We recognize that for some the flag represents racism, hatred and bigotry, while others see it as a representation of Southern heritage protected as a matter of freedom of speech/freedom of expression. Due to the considerable local and national debate this issue has stirred in recent years, Town officials consulted with legal counsel in 2018 concerning the Town’s options when it comes to the possible exclusion of certain groups from the parade. We were told in no uncertain terms that as the government entity partnering with WFD in the facilitation of the parade that we have no legal basis for excluding any group based on the flag or symbol they display. Furthermore, there have been court cases where groups that were excluded successfully sued the entities that banned them.
To be clear, we were told that if we plan to proceed with the annual Christmas Parade, then, legally, we have no choice but to accept any organization that applies and agrees to abide by the parade rules.
We recognize that some may find this news difficult, if not impossible, to believe – much less accept. Still, the uncomfortable fact remains there are no easy answers and no convenient solutions to an issue affecting communities like ours throughout the U.S.
At the end of the day, all we can do is be completely transparent with you – the members of our community – about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We know that some will disagree. Still, can we disagree without being disagreeable?
Rather than allow this wonderful holiday tradition to become political and divisive, let’s instead commit ourselves to view it as an opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate the sentiment so eloquently and effectively asserted by Helen Joanne Cox.
We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than that which divides us.Town of Wake Forest
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