Holiday or Christmas? Tulsans get their pick of parades
BY DAVID HARPER & KENDRICK MARSHALL World Staff Writers
Sunday, December 09, 2012
12/09/12 at 8:05 AM
Two parades on Saturday night in Tulsa gave local residents a chance to march to the beat of their own Little Drummer Boy.
The long-running Holiday Parade of Lights wound through the streets of downtown Tulsa, while the second installment of the Tulsa Christmas Parade was held at the Tulsa Hills Shopping Center.
The dueling events were the result of the controversy that sprung up after the downtown event shifted to the "holiday" moniker in 2009.
Kim Breien, who attended the downtown parade on Saturday night, currently lives in Skiatook and noted she has witnessed similar battles where she used to live.
"I'm from California, so I'm used to everything being politically correct," Breien said from her vantage point at Fourth Street and Boulder Avenue. "We went through everything like this before. It's a shame, but it doesn't surprise me."
Shayla Knight said she has been coming to the downtown parade with her family ever since they moved from Houston to Owasso 12 years ago. She said she wasn't going to let the name change disturb what has become a family tradition.
"We're all God's people," Knight said.
Tomm Reeves of Tulsa, who attended the downtown event, said he liked the switch "because 'holiday' includes everyone." He said attaching "Christmas" to the title makes religion the focus.
Then again, that's precisely the point for a lot of people.
"Christ is what Christmas is all about," said Peggy Greiner of Bartlesville while at the downtown parade.
Indeed, many who lined the streets for the Holiday Parade of Lights said they would prefer that the word "Christmas" be attached to the title even though the issue obviously wasn't a deal-breaker for them.
"It's Christmastime," said Ellen Chaston, who moved to Tulsa from Virginia earlier this year. "It's 'Merry Christmas' not 'Happy Holidays.' This country was founded on Christian values. I respect everybody else's holiday. They should respect mine."
Said Brenda Contu of Tulsa: "Christmas is Christmas. I don't care what they call it. This is a Christmas parade."
Still, she said the naming controversy was not going to stop her from coming to the downtown event for what she estimated to be the 14th straight year.
The downtown parade was billed as an "interfaith celebration" that featured not only Christmas imagery such as Santa Claus but also representation from the local Jewish and Muslim communities.
Jim Stockton of Beggs said as he stood in front of the BOK Center that he was "fine with it either way. Whatever makes everybody happy."
For some, the name was not a determining factor when it came to choosing the best parade to attend.
Angie Stewart of Tulsa said she picked the downtown parade because she thought it would offer the best show.
"It's the best one you can come to," Stewart said.
Tenae Gill of Claremore said as she wore a Santa hat on the south side of Fourth Street that the naming controversy is "just something for people to argue about."
Meanwhile, the second annual Tulsa Christmas Parade at Tulsa Hills Shopping Center drew crowds so large that spectators were standing on vehicles to get a better view of the spectacle along Olympia Avenue.
On the minds of some in attendance Saturday night were the stark differences between the dueling parades.
"That's what it is all about," said Lettie Saman of Tulsa while pointing to a passing nativity scene. "It's about Jesus. It is all about him."
Saman said she attended the downtown parade but felt disappointed in the presentation as it seemed to exclude traditional Christmas themes.
Amy Mills of Glenpool shared similar views about the parade that was more Christian in nature to her than the one just a few miles away.
Those like Jessica McCrary of Tulsa just wanted her two children to experience the wonders of an event she enjoyed as a youth.
"I haven't been to a parade since I was a little kid," McCrary said. "I have two kids of my own, and I thought it would be fun to bring them down for the parade."
Floyd Johnson, 9, could barely contain himself as the various floats and vehicles went by accompanied by music blaring in the distance.
"I liked the motorcycles," Johnson said. "And I liked the candy, too."
Original Print Headline: Parades draw crowds
David Harper 918-581-8359
Kendrick Marshall 918-581-8386
Amera Hammami, 14, of the Islamic Society of Tulsa, waves as she walks in the Holiday Parade of Lights on Saturday. Hammami wished paradegoers a "Merry Christmas" as she walked by. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
Participants adorned in lights walk past crowds of visitors during the Tulsa Christmas Parade at Tulsa Hills on Saturday. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
The Riverfield Country Day School Band marches in the Holiday Parade of Lights. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
The Christmas tree is seen as fireworks are shot off at the Holiday Parade of Lights. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
Girls dressed as angels ride one of the floats during the Tulsa Christmas Parade. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World