Leesburg renames holiday parade

The Leesburg town council’s decision to changed the name of the annual holiday parade may add new spark to an old controversy.

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Christmas lights at an area house. (Photo by Rick Rice)

The town council voted 6-to-1 in favor of re-naming the "holiday parade" the "Christmas and holiday parade” last week.

“We're going to recognize Christmas -- for both secular and spiritual reasons. It’s an important part of American culture, it’s part of our heritage,” said Mayor Kristen Umstattd.

Someone petitioned the council this fall to include Christmas in the parade's title.

Some worry the change could re-ignite a controversy started two years ago when a disagreement over Christmas decorations at the Loudon County courthouse led to a ban on all displays.

After nearly a year of debate, fiery public meetings and legal action, the county board agreed to accept applications for any type of holiday displays on a first-come, first-served basis.

“This has been a special privilege provided to the religious community for a long time and I believe it's an inappropriate collaboration between religion and government,” one said.

The Leesburg mayor stands by the decision, pointing out there would be no parade if it weren't for Christmas, a federal holiday.

"We try to make sure we are very (affirmative) to all religions and we are in Leesburg, we're very inclusive. But we shouldn’t be expunging Christmas from what is the Christmas season,” Umstattd said.

This year's parade -- with it's new name -- is set for Saturday, Dec. 10th.

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