Tulsa parades stand by their names
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, December 08, 2012
12/08/12 at 7:10 PM
This story originally misstated when American Electric Power-Public Service Co. ended its major sponsorship of the Holiday Parade of Lights. The story has been corrected.
Learn more with the Tulsa Holiday Guide: See the holiday festivities schedule which includes parades, performances and light displays.
If it marches like a Christmas parade and sounds like a Christmas parade, does that make it a Christmas parade?
Depends on who you ask.
Tulsa now has two Christmas-season parades, the decades-old traditional downtown Holiday Parade of Lights, formerly called the Christmas Parade of Lights, and the new Tulsa Christmas Parade, now in its second year at Tulsa Hills Shopping Center.
Both will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The directors of both parades call each other friends and have even discussed joining the two parades.
They agree on all points, including having the parade downtown, except one: what to call the parade. Or, more specifically, whether to include Christmas in the name.
On that point, neither will compromise.
"We met earlier this year to explore ways to join forces," said Larry Fox, director of the Holiday Parade of Lights.
"We'd prefer to have only one event. If you combined the resources of both groups, what an amazing event you could put on.
"But we're fundamentally divided over the name."
Josh McFarland, founder and director of the Tulsa Christmas Parade, said talks about combining the parades looked promising earlier this year but met an impasse over the name.
"I thought we had struck a deal," he said, after agreeing to a list of demands the downtown parade leadership wanted.
"We wanted one thing, the word Christmas in the title. Call it the Christmas Parade of Lights. That was our only non-negotiable demand.
"I believe words have meaning."
The two parade directors may call each other friends, but they have some questions.
Fox wonders, if the parades are not in competition, why the new parade was scheduled at exactly the same time as his parade.
McFarland counters that in the crowded month of December, there was no other Saturday available.
And McFarland wonders why the Holiday Parade of Lights bought a billboard at Tulsa Hills, the site of the new parade.
"That doesn't help matters," he said.
Christmas was dropped from the name of the downtown parade in 2009, the last year that American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma was the major sponsor.
That first year, no one noticed.
Fox said the new primary sponsor, Mimosa Tree Capital Partners, is owned by two business partners who are his lifetime friends, Vince LoVoi, a Catholic, and Joel Kantor, a Jew.
"As long as I'm involved, we're not going to change the name," Fox said.
"What it's really done is open it up to a whole segment of our community that doesn't celebrate Christmas. We want everyone to participate."
He said the downtown parade will have participation from the Tulsa Jewish and Muslim communities, as well as the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Society and the Episcopal Church.
McFarland said it hit him "like a ton of bricks" when Christmas was deleted from the name and no one in Tulsa stepped up to do anything about it.
"My kids aren't going to have a traditional Christmas parade like I had when I was younger," he told himself.
He eventually decided he should organize a parade himself, "whether 10 people or 10,000 show up."
"We don't want any strife or controversy. We just wanted to have a Christmas parade," he said.
The first parade, held last December, drew an estimated 20,000 people, overwhelming the parking and porta-potties at Tulsa Hills.
"We were blown away," McFarland said. "We were prepared for 6,000 or 7,000 people."
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Wednesday that he will participate in the Tulsa Christmas Parade on Saturday.
Inhofe said he had ridden his horse in the downtown Christmas parade for 20 some years, often taking grandchildren with him to share in the event.
"I've really enjoyed it," Inhofe said.
"When they changed it from the Christmas parade to the holiday parade, I elected, a personal decision, not to ride in it," he said.
Last year he was not in either parade.
Why did he choose the Tulsa Christmas Parade this year? "Because it's a Christmas parade, that's what it is," he said.
Fox and McFarland are enthusiastic about their respective parades.
"We pride ourselves on the quality of our event," Fox said.
He said he had no idea how many people typically attend the parade. Past news reports have estimated the crowd at 20,000 to 30,000.
McFarland said the Tulsa Christmas Parade is looking at several possible locations for next year.
"There's no reason we can't make this a little bigger and better each year.
"Tulsa can become a place where people come to do Christmas," he said.
A TALE OF TWO PARADES
Holiday Parade of Lights
The downtown parade will have about 65 entries, some of them professionally made floats.
Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton and the University of Tulsa men's basketball team will participate, as will members of the Tulsa Jewish and Muslim communities. KTUL-channel 8 will broadcast the parade live.
The parade will begin at Fourth Street and Elgin Avenue, go west to Denver Avenue, north to First Street, and back east to Elgin.
It will go by Winterfest outside the BOK Center.
Tulsa Christmas Parade
The Tulsa Hills parade will have about 65 entries to keep it within one hour.
The Rev. Tom Harrison, Asbury United Methodist Church, will open the parade with an invocation. Several churches will have floats.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and U.S. Rep.-elect Jim Bridenstine will participate.
The parade will begin at 71st Street and Olympia Avenue and go south to 81st Street.
To ease parking and traffic, limited free shuttle transportation will be available from the Mabee Center parking lot, 81st Street and Lewis Avenue.
Original Print Headline: Parades stand by names
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
Roby Watts with Lone Star Parade Floats works to decorate a float for the Holiday Parade of Lights on Thursday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Nikki Ewing with Lone Star Parade Floats works to decorate a float for the Holiday Parade of Lights on Thursday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Clyde Watts with Lone Star Parade Floats works to decorate a float for the Holiday Parade of Lights on Thursday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World