Inhofe refuses to participate in 'holiday' parade
BY JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
12/01/10 at 4:49 AM
WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Tuesday that he won't participate in Tulsa's Holiday Parade of Lights until organizers put "Christ" back in the event's title.
"Last year, the forces of political correctness removed the word 'Christmas' and replaced it with 'Holiday' instead," the Oklahoma Republican said. "I am deeply saddened and disappointed by this change."
Inhofe, who was Tulsa's mayor from 1978 to 1984, said he had participated in the parade annually, riding a horse as his children and grandchildren watched.
"I did not do so last year because I'm not going to ride in a Christmas parade that doesn't recognize Christmas," he said. "I am hopeful that the good people of Tulsa and the city's leadership will demand a correction to this shameful attempt to take Christ, the true reason for our celebration, out of the parade's title. Until the parade is again named the Christmas Parade of Lights, I will not participate."
Asked for a response from Mayor Dewey Bartlett, city spokeswoman Kim MacLeod said the mayor "wouldn't miss the city's parade" and then provided a comment from the mayor.
"If it was up to me, I'd call it a Christmas parade, but I also understand that we have a diverse community, and I'm sensitive to the importance of the many cultures and traditions that make up our city," Bartlett said.
Scheduled this year for 6 p.m. Dec. 11, the downtown parade has been a tradition for more than 70 years.
Inhofe spokesman Jared Young confirmed that the senator was scheduled last year to be the parade's entry No. 66 but canceled after learning of the name change.
Young said the decision wasn't announced last year because of the debate surrounding the health-care law.
"When he (Inhofe) learned that they were going with 'Holiday' again this year, he wanted to make his position known," Young said, adding that Inhofe might participate in Broken Arrow's Christmas parade this year.
Calls to people involved in this year's parade were not returned.
Larry Fox, the parade board's chairman, explained the name change in a response to a letter to the editor that appeared last year in the Tulsa World. Despite its historical and common name, Fox said, the parade has always required that entries display a holiday - not necessarily Christmas - theme.
"Moreover, the parade has always welcomed participation and viewing by all Tulsans, whether or not they celebrate Christmas," he said then.
To more accurately reflect the actual theme, and to better evidence that inclusiveness, the parade's board, with the concurrence of its primary sponsor, approved the deletion of the word "Christmas" from the official title of the event, Fox said.
"By no means was there any intent to offend those who observe Christmas," he said.
Recent e-mails from the parade's organizers provided by the Inhofe office indicate that even they might be unsure of the event's proper name. One e-mail refers to the "Tulsa Christmas Parade of Lights."
American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma, which sponsored the event for 20 years, announced in August that it would no longer be the presenting sponsor, citing budgetary reasons and a desire to donate to other causes.
Elliot Nelson of McNellie's Pub has agreed to sponsor this year's parade.
Jim Myers (202) 484-1424
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe greets onlookers during the 2004 Christmas Parade of Lights in downtown Tulsa. Tulsa World file