A Tennessee town has canceled a Christmas parade after a planned float spurred threats of violence, The Tennesseean reports. Apparently, some residents took offense to the float's LGBTQ theme. However, plans are afoot to make the parade happen, possibly on an alternate day.
The town of Troy, along the Kentucky border, announced in a Facebook post on Monday that the community's annual Christmas parade, scheduled for December 14, was canceled this year due to "ongoing scheduling conflicts." However, responses to the post indicate that many townsfolk believe the cancellation had less to do with scheduling conflicts and more to do with a planned float that obliquely makes reference to the LGBTQ community.
Dwight Tittle is the parent of an openly gay son, and regularly gives his business card to area residents so they can call him if they feel like they need to talk. He says the volume of calls he's gotten has increased of late, and he wanted everybody to know that he and his family "love everybody." So he decided to make that the theme of his planned float: "Love Everybody."
The planned float was to feature a rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBTQ community. Tittle's son was going to walk beside it, and anyone else who wanted to was welcome to walk beside it as well. Other than that, the float was thin on LGBTQ references, focusing instead on its general theme of love. Indeed, it was even going to quote the New Testament -- 1 John 4:7-8 ("Let us love one another, for love comes from God").
Unfortunately, Tittle says, some townsfolk weren't on board with the idea. Specifically, he says that when word of the planned float reached social media, the reaction was "swift and volatile." One person, he says, suggested throwing rock-hard jawbreaker candy at it. Another, he says, suggested pelting it with tomatoes.
"I knew I would probably get a few random people that didn't understand or didn't believe what our goal was... but I never expected it to blow up into this kind of situation," Tittle said.
Troy's Mayor, Deanna Chappell, said that she made the decision to cancel the parade not because of the float or purported threats against it, but because the volunteers the town relies on to manage the parade aren't available on the original, planned date.
She says that plans are in the works to host the parade on a different date.
"We are actively working to come up with a plan to make a parade happen," she said.