The mayor of a West Virginia town changed the name of the community’s annual Christmas Parade to “Winter Parade” and inadvertently made the city Ground Zero for a brief culture war, The New York Times reports.
For as long as anyone could remember, Charleston, like so many other towns and cities across the country, hosted a December parade, complete with Santa Claus, dancers dressed as elves, and all of the other cultural touchstones that traditionally represent the American Christmas. Of course, such an event was called the “Christmas Parade.”
However, Mayor Amy Goodwin, in a Facebook post and with little fanfare, effectively changed the name of the parade when announcing the date.
“The Charleston Winter Parade will begin at the corner of the Kanawha Boulevard and Capitol Street,” the post read.
Little did she know that she had inadvertently made her town Ground Zero for a culture war.
Within minutes, accusations of invoking the so-called “War on Christmas” were flying.
“The new mayor needs to be voted out if she does away with the Christmas parade. Christmas is all about Christ, not some winter parade,” said one angry townsperson.
“It’s a cute little parade with cute little kids and can’t we just have a Christmas parade?” asked another.
Junior high school band teacher Brandon Willard had a more practical concern — that the children, with whom he’d spent many hours practicing their song, “Sleigh Ride,” wouldn’t be able to perform because parents would pull their kids from the parade.
Rev. Matthew J. Watts, the pastor of a largely African-American congregation, said that his parishioners took the name change as an attack on Jesus Christ himself.
“I’m a traditionalist, and I grew up with a strong background of celebrating the birth of Christ,” he said.
Mayor Goodwin, for her part, says that she just wanted to be more inclusive of the city’s inhabitants who may not be Christian. To her, it was just an extension of her policies of inclusivity. When she took over as mayor, she invited clergy from other faiths to open city council meetings with prayers.
She was also nonplussed at the idea that, in her city of 50,000 people, some 7,000 kids were in foster care and people were dying every day from opioid overdoses, yet townsfolk were concerned about the name of a parade.
The culture war, such as it was, raged for about 72 hours. Then, on a local radio show, the mayor called in to say that the parade‘s name had been changed back to its original form. However, she didn’t spare any ire for her critics.
“I will say the type of vitriol, the kind of vitriol that has come forth since we announced this suggested change has actually been really hurtful and disappointing,” she said.