Organizers: Holiday Caravan parade is 'no more' in Rowan County

Holiday Caravan parade 'no more' in Rowan County, organizers say

ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Rowan County's annual Holiday Caravan parade is "no more," according to a letter from parade organizers sent out Tuesday.

"At last year's parade on November 22, 2017, an entry with a pre-meditated, full of hate, assumptions and lack of knowledge caused a scene that has forever impacted Salisbury historically as far as the future of the Holiday Caravan Parade," parade organizers said on their Facebook page Tuesday.

Organizers of the parade were accused of discrimination in 2017 when the leader of a Rowan County gay rights group said a float she and supporters were supposed to ride on was banned from participating.

A spokesperson for Salisbury Pride, a well-known gay advocacy group in the area, contacted WBTV to say that Salisbury Pride had no involvement with the group and individuals who were part of the controversy.

"We very clearly stayed away from that," said Beth Meadows of Salisbury Pride.

Parade officials said the ban was "because the float's sponsor, Avita Pharmacy, violated the rules by letting a separate group advertise its message with 'signage, apparel, fliers' that were not approved beforehand, according to The Charlotte Observer.

Previous: Gay rights group claims longtime holiday parade is banning them

In Tuesday's post, officials said that since the 2017 parade, the all-volunteer board members "have received hate mail, emails, and threats to protest the 2018 parade to not only their personal email addresses, home addresses, social media but also to their place of employment."

"The personal attacks on these people's livelihoods, local businesses they own, places of employment, and them just as a human being were unprovoked and no volunteer should ever have to endure something of that nature," the post continued.

A separate letter, which did not mention any reason for the cancelation, was sent to participants earlier Tuesday:

Dear Past Participant,

Officials said they notified the Town of Spencer and City of Salisbury of their "intent not to produce future Holiday Caravan Parade's and if they chose to produce future parades it will be their discretion."

The full notice from organizers can be seen here:

On whether the city would put on a parade, officials told WBTV, "We are having a very preliminary conversation about if or how we can support this initiative."

Salisbury Mayor Al Heggins released a statement about the parade Tuesday evening:

I'm disappointed and very saddened about the Holiday Caravan Board's announcement to discontinue the Holiday Caravan Parade. Please know that Salisbury's City Council never made a decision to take over the Holiday Caravan Parade or felt pressured to do so. As a local government entity, our priority is to create welcoming and inclusive environments for all. It is my hope we all work together, as a community, and move forward with a renewed commitment to continue this great tradition for the entire Rowan community. My deepest thanks to the Holiday Caravan Board for your dedicated work over the years!

There is no word on whether any other groups have expressed interest in hosting the parade in place of the Holiday Caravan Board of Directors.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.