Yearly parade in Leesburg gets a name change
Mayor Kristen Umstattd and the Leesburg Town Council voted Oct. 11 to put a bit more Christmas into the town’s December parade. The Holiday Parade has formally held that name since Leesburg’s Department of Parks and Recreation started it in 1994. After Tuesday night’s vote, it will be called the Christmas and Holiday Parade.
The topic of the name change arose when someone petitioned council last month to change the name of the parade to something that had Christmas in the name of it. The out-of-town resident pointed out that Christmas should be placed in the name of the parade, adding that Middleburg has a Christmas Parade every year with little to no objection to the name of it.
Council Member Marty Martinez brought up the fact that since his time in Leesburg, he and everyone he knows has referred to the parade as the Christmas Parade, and he has no problem with adding Christmas into the name.
The actual parade was never formally named the Christmas Parade; it was just referred to that throughout the town, Martinez pointed out.
“This started as a Christmas parade. I’m not going to say that we should focus on that. The point is that everyone should have a chance to participate,” Martinez said.
“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, I’m going to support it.”
Council members were concerned that placing Christmas in the name along with the word holiday could turn the parade into something similar to what happened last year on the Loudoun County Courthouse lawn, when signs popped up during the holidays representing every group and cause imaginable.
“I thought the whole idea was not to put the word holiday in it because all parades are holiday related,” Council Member Katie Hammler said.
Council Member Tom Dunn said that council was making too big a deal out of the naming of the parade. For example back in 1998 the name of the “Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony” was renamed the “Tree Lighting Ceremony.” It was then changed back to “Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Menorah Lighting” in 2010.
“I love the word Christmas, and I’d like to see it part of the name of this parade. This is the Christmas season. The White House recognizes Christmas,” Umstattd said. “I think this is the right way to go.”
Council Member Dave Butler did not agree with renaming the parade.
“I will not be supporting this. I am absolutely stunned that the council would be supporting it. It’s a holiday parade; everyone is invited to attend,” Butler said. “I’ve already heard that it will ruin this parade. Coming this fall, or next fall we’ll have floats and arrangements, and the parade is going to look like the courthouse lawn, and we will absolutely deserve it. People will start to boo and hiss and protest these signs. Worst case we’ll get disgusted with this and cancel the parade. It’s not broken, and it’s a wonderful event.”
“Our holiday parade does not fall on a particular day. This parade actually falls closer to Thanksgiving than Christmas,” Dunn said. “I also feel as a Christian, the parade is more of a commercialization of my religion and it’s more of a holiday parade than a Christian parade. The son of Israel does not do the bidding of the town council.”
Council voted 6-1 with Butler dissenting to name the parade the Christmas and Holiday Parade.