Skip to comments.Snubbed churchgoers make selves heard on every corner (of Denver "Holiday" parade)
Posted on 12/04/2004 9:59:56 PM PST by churchillbuff
Bruce Bain doesn't attend church regularly, but nothing was going to keep him from showing up on the corner of 17th Street and Tremont Place on Friday night.
"How can you have the Parade of Lights without the 'light of the world'?" he asked. "Christmas is a religious holiday."
So the 56-year-old Englewood man joined hundreds of Christmas carolers from metro-area churches and sang along the Parade of Lights route. They sang on 15th Street. They sang at Court Place. And they sang at Colfax Avenue and Bannock Street.
What they didn't do was raise hell.
Yes, it was a protest of sorts - if you count that five of the six songs in the 2,500 caroling pamphlets given out heralded the birth of Jesus. See, Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, upon hearing the parade wouldn't allow its religious-themed float this year, decided it would rally carolers and sing along the route beforehand.For its part, the parade started in 1974 as a way to replace Denver's traditional Saturday morning Santa Claus Parade that ended in the 1960s. The Parade Of Lights entry rules evolved during the past decade to reject religious-themed floats in favor of more secular symbols such as snowmen and gingerbread houses.
Pastor George Morrison - whose church has 4,000 members - said he was not even allowed to have a sign that read "Merry Christmas."
Rhoda Schultz, one of the caroling organizers, didn't know what to expect as people began to show up shortly after 6:30 p.m. She urged everyone to be respectful. She asked that they stop singing 10 minutes before the parade started at 8 p.m. so as not to divert attention away from the parade.
"OK, so we're not going to get a float," she said. "So let's get together anyway and carol."
The leader of Faith Bible Chapel's choir then stood on the steps of Republic Plaza and tried to marshal the caroling forces.
"OK, how many are ready to go?" she asked.
A few scattered hands went up. Finally, a group of about 20 were corralled, and with their song sheets, scarves and a few signs, they headed down Tremont Place.As the hour before the parade marched on, more groups of 20 or 30 went forth, singing. By the time Schultz's 10-minute rule arrived, about 500 were singing at various downtown street corners.
Along the parade route, the caroling groups were greeted with some applause. Some watched impassively. Some merchants zipped past them selling light sticks and foam Christmas-tree hats. One person walked by and asked, "Are these the Jesus people?"
Carly MacGill, who was with her 3-year-old daughter, stood on an icy curb as the first group moved slowly by. They were just starting Joy to the World when MacGill yelled, "Merry Christmas! God bless!"
Laura Ranger, who was bundled up in a red jacket and wore a Santa hat, said she wanted to sing because she was simply tired of feeling like Christianity was being excluded from the Parade of Lights.
She wore a sign on her back that read, "Say it loud and proud - Merry Christmas.
"It took me a few seconds to make the sign, but they were important seconds," Ranger, 31, said. "I needed to be out here to show my support."
Mary Beth Brugler, a 53-year-old from Arvada and a member of Faith Bible Chapel, showed her support by brewing 12 gallons of hot chocolate.
Another person brought an additional three gallons.
It was all gone in an hour.
"We pretty much covered everyone," Brugler said, adding that the batch she made consisted of "just the right amount of chocolate."
The Parade of Lights, sponsored by the Downtown Partnership, issued a statement Friday regarding the carolers.
Jim Basey, president of the partnership, said it stands by its policy of not allowing religious or political messages in the parade. He also said that despite last-minute lobbying by City Council members for a compromise, parade organizers said they would wait until next year to evaluate their policies.
But this year, well, rules are rules.
"We have no objections to Pastor (George) Morrison's plan to walk along the parade crowd, pass hot chocolate and sing Christmas carols," the statement said. "Please know that there are no policies for the Parade of Lights prohibiting Christmas songs or parade participants saying 'Merry Christmas,' 'Happy Hanukkah' or other holiday greetings. That is part of the holiday tradition."
Friday night, carolers organized by Faith Bible Chapel blanketed portions of the Parade of Lights route with traditional Christmas songs including:
Joy to the World
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
The First Noel
Angels We Have Heard on High
We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Ten minutes before the parade began, the carolers ended with Silent Night.
How very big of them.
I love it!
God bless them all.
partnership of what I wonder?
Well, I'm offended that they're offended -
so that neutralizes them - and
Actually they should have just filtered in between the floats and walked along singing. It would have forced the promoters to either swollow their pride and let it happen or request police to arrest them, and that would have embarrased them even more.
Remember the reason for the season.
Well, actually, Jim will be KNEELING before Him! Now...as to the lame excuse he'll try to come up with is ANYONE'S guess.
Great news. Thanks for posting this.
The time is near when those of us who believe, will be thinking more and more about becoming the salt of the earth....
Yes indeed....Merry Christmas
Thank YOU Lord
FarRightTexasDude,He has friends.
What do these people think Christmas is anyway ?/The worlds gone mad I tell you ..I'm putting up a huge Merry Christmas on my place and I'd like to see someone tell me it offends them ...
"ands by its policy of not allowing religious or political messages in the parade."IT'S A RELIGIOUS HOLIDAY !!!!!!!WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY SAYING/??.>I'm serious , am I loosing it or it this completly insane ?
Please FReepmail me if you want on or off my miscellaneous ping list.
Good for them! What is that saying about what it takes for evil to prevail? It's good to see some good men taking a stand against evil.
I've seen some Merry Christmas lights on people's houses....I can't seem to find them in the stores. If anyone knows WHERE...please let me know!
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