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Leesburg, Va., puts 'Christmas' in parade name; not all are merry

October 18, 2011 |  2:15 pm

 

Santa hat
Leesburg, Va., is putting "Christmas" back in the name of its holiday parade. But not everyone is sharing in the holiday cheer.

"It’s a holiday parade. It’s not just a Christmas parade," said Dave Butler, a Leesburg councilman, said in objecting at a recent council meeting to changing the name of annual event in the northern Virginia town from the Holiday Parade to the Christmas and Holiday Parade. "All faiths are invited to have floats."

According to a tape of the council meeting, Butler added, "We have a legal opinion that basically says this is really a stupid idea for us to do this, but we’re going to do it anyway, based on the request of one person who does not even live in the town."

In interview, Butler said he feared the name change would lead to the kind of response that followed Loudoun County's decision to allow up to 10 displays, holiday related or not, on the grounds of the historic courthouse in Leesburg. Atheist groups are among those that have displayed signs, including one last year that read "Celebrating our Constitution: Keeping Church and State Separate since 1787."

"The parade is going to look like the courthouse lawn,’" he said.

He also expressed concern that the name change will "rub some people the wrong way."

"We may end up getting additions to the parade that the majority of people may not appreciate," he said. "There’s a chance we’re going to mess up a good thing.’"

He was outvoted by his council colleagues, 6 to 1, according to the Loudoun Times.

Councilman Ken Reid, who supported the name change, said that public reaction has been positive.

"It is what it is. It's a Christmas parade, and all faiths are welcome," he said in an interview.

"If there’s anybody with a Hanukkah float out there, we’d be more than happy to welcome you," Reid said during the council meeting.

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-- Richard Simon in Washington

Photo: File picture. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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