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Claremont school Thanksgiving costumes create a commotion

November 25, 2008 | 11:54 am

Nearly two dozen protesters were stationed this morning in front of Condit Elementary School in Claremont, the site of a decades-old Thanksgiving tradition that is under fire because kindergartners dress up in handmade pilgrim and Native American costumes.

After a handful of parents complained that the Native American headdresses and vests were demeaning, cartoonish stereotypes, the Claremont Unified School District eliminated the costumes from this year's festivities, but allowed the turkey feast to go forward.

The protesters were evenly split between parents who supported the costumes and parents who opposed the outfits, and their discussion grew so heated that school officials called police, who separated the protesters on separate sidewalks, said Lt. Dennis Smith of the Claremont Police Department.

Police are also paying extra attention to Claremont schools Supt. David Cash's home, after he called police to report he was receiving hate e-mails and feared for his safety, Smith said. The e-mails did not rise to the level of criminal prosecution.

Cash and Condit principal Tim Northrop did not return phone calls seeking comment, but school employees reported that the commotion in front of the school was heated.

"It's been wild," said one woman who declined to give her name. Meanwhile, the kindergartners -- some of whom showed up wearing their banned costumes -- frolicked on the playground, eating, running and chattering with friends, Smith said. "The kids were oblivious," he added, "as they should be."

--Seema Mehta

Read the original story here.

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