I attended the Raleigh Christmas Parade in November. Most people would agree that this event is intended for the enjoyment of children. Adults are entertained as well, but usually in that feeling like a kid again sort of way that makes us warm and fuzzy inside.
This was my first year spectating as a parent. Even though my daughter is only a 1-year-old, I couldnt wait to see her reaction to the floats parading, princesses waving and Santa riding on his sled. Yet, as we watched the marching bands go by and clapped to the music, a weird feeling came over me.
Imagine that place inside that determines what is morally sound. Theres an appropriate-o-meter with a gauge that is usually settled on appropriate. I know everyones definition of decency is different and depends on a whole slew of things, including upbringing, religious beliefs and life experiences. Regardless of where a persons meter begins, I think every parade spectators gauge was wavering that day, moving toward unseemly. For some people, hopefully the children, the red gauge moved all the way to the other side where the words look away now were flashing in bright red.
Call me a fuddy-duddy, but I dont need to see a dance team twerk to the tune of Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. And how about women leaving something, even just a little, up to the imagination? I dont understand why girls are scantily clad for a holiday parade. One particular band had a flag core team dressed in tight, white granny-panty-looking bottoms with even tighter white halter tops. As they walked by, I couldnt help but shiver. It was cold that day. Wouldnt a jumpsuit have been nice?
Beyond feeling bad about the cold, I was sad for these girls, who seemed to be about 14 or 15. Many of them were looking out at the crowd with seductive gazes. I held my daughter in close during those moments. It pains me to think about a world where young girls think its necessary to vie for attention this way during a Christmas parade.
And then there was the end of the parade. All of the floats and bands should have heralded the arrival of Santa. Hes the caboose on the parade train the guy all the children have been waiting for.
Apparently, the Raleigh parade committee didnt see it this way. Santa, yes, Mr. Kris Kringle himself, was usurped. His place of honor was reassigned as he was demoted to the second-to-the-last spot. If a big Jesus float or a nativity scene had followed Santa, Id get it. Actually, Id give a standing ovation and write the committee a thank you card.
No, instead of a traditional symbol of Christmas, the parade ended with another band whose members were dressed and danced more inappropriately than any other.
This finale summed up the character of the entire parade. At times it was wonderful and sparked that magical feeling that only Christmas ignites. However, that special Christmas spirit was slightly tainted by the provocative nature of some of the performances.
It seemed like parts of the parade were conforming to the slogan sex sells. Cant we all agree, during the Christmas season, to abide by a different motto? How about innocence inspires or clothing is cool?
My family will still attend the Raleigh Christmas parade next season and many to come. Despite my complaints, the show did give my spirit that special Christmas boost.
I just wish that boost didnt come with an asterisk.
Melissa Schulte of Raleigh is a mother, consultant and writer.