This year, the annual parade held in downtown Tulsa will once again contain the word “Christmas” in its title, in what is being called a “unified” parade.
Since the tradition first began in the 1920’s, the parade had always been Christmas-themed. It even included an appearance from Santa.
In 2009 the name was changed to “The Tulsa Downtown Parade of Lights.” The name was thought to be more inclusive to the thousands of people of non-Christian faiths that make their homes in Tulsa.
Initially, there was not much of a reaction. The parade had been the Parade of Lights unofficially for years, and “Christmas” was only officially dropped in 2009. In 2010, however, Senator Jim Inhofe publicly refused to attend as he had in past years. In a 2010 press release, Inhofe decried the “shameful attempt to take Christ, the true reason for our celebration, out of the parades title.”
In a 2011 issue of This Land, Natasha Ball writes that “this year it will be a celebration of the city’s diversity—evidence that the city really is becoming a more tolerant and welcoming place for people of all beliefs and creeds.”
However, a 2013 opinion poll reported that 78 percent of the 400 people polled wanted the word “Christmas” to be put back in the title.
This year’s parade will once again feature the “Christmas” title. The parade, now titled the “American Waste Control Tulsa Christmas Parade,” is being organized by Tulsa Events Group LLC, a different organizer than previous years, and one that has been formed for the specific purpose of putting on the parade.
The official website for this year’s parade reads, “Anyone and everyone can be in the parade and support the parade.” The site also claims that the organizers “have a vision to make Tulsa a Christmas destination via this parade,” and that “our desire is to use the publicity to honor God.”
One of the organizers, Josh McFarland, also helped organize last year’s “Tulsa Christmas Parade,” a rival parade that sprung up in South Tulsa following the naming controversy.
Editor’s note: Although it was written by the State-Run Media Editor, this story is real.