Small Virginia Town Torn Over Putting 'Christmas' Back Into 'Holiday' Parade

An annual parade in Leesburg, Va., is getting "Christmas" put back in the title, but some have conflicting opinions of the change.

The Town Council of Leesburg approved a resolution to change the name of the parade from the "Holiday Parade" to the "Christmas and Holiday Parade" in an overwhelming 6-1 vote, with many councilmembers voicing strong opinions about the issue.

Councilman David Butler said he was "absolutely stunned" that the council had even considered the change, according to the Leesburg Patch.

"It's not something I can respect," Butler said. "It's a holiday parade. It's not a Christmas parade. All religions are invited to have floats. It's not celebrating a specific holiday nor should it."

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Butler said he feared the name change would lead to a public spat over politics and religion, similar to what happened when Loudoun County decided to allow up to 10 displays, holiday related or not, on the grounds of the historic courthouse in Leesburg.

That decision led to different groups clamoring for attention, including atheist groups, who put up a sign last year that read: "Celebrating our Constitution: Keeping Church and State Separate since 1787."

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

However, Councilman Marty Martinez said that there was no reason to hide the Christian aspect of what he says is absolutely a Christian event, the Patch reported.

"This started as a Christmas parade years ago. It's Christian based. I'm not going to say we should focus on that. The point is everyone should have an opportunity to participate," said Martinez.

"It's a time for celebration," Martinez added. "Why can't we get along and be nice about it and be tolerant about it? I've always wanted it to be the Christmas Parade. I see no harm. It covers everybody so I'm going to support it."

Councilman Ken Reid said that even though the word "Christmas" is in the title, other faiths are still welcome to participate.

"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.

Comments about the name change from Leesburg residents on the Patch website were overwhelmingly positive. But some believe the name change would exclude others in the community.

"Are there no non-Christians in Leesburg? Their tax dollars support the parade, too. Why not make leave it as something that EVERYONE in the town can enjoy?" the reader wrote.

But another reader pointed out that the town was simply adopting a name it had before. "There was no need to change the name FROM 'Christmas Parade' to begin with, so I'm glad they decided to change it back to its original name."

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