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Our Opinion: Keeping ‘Christmas’ was the right choice for Wilson’s parade

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A Wilson Times Co. editorial
Posted 9/24/19

THUMBS UP to the Wilson Downtown Development Corp. for preserving tradition and easing community concerns by restoring “Christmas” to the Historic Downtown Wilson Christmas Parade’s …

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Our Opinion: Keeping ‘Christmas’ was the right choice for Wilson’s parade

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THUMBS UP to the Wilson Downtown Development Corp. for preserving tradition and easing community concerns by restoring “Christmas” to the Historic Downtown Wilson Christmas Parade’s name.

Business boosters reversed course Thursday after a planned switch to the name Historic Downtown Wilson Holiday Parade brought a flood of negative feedback. Wilson residents felt substituting “Holiday” for the religiously and culturally significant “Christmas” was meant as a concession to secularism or political correctness.

That perception bore no resemblance to reality. Organizers were responding to complaints following last year’s event, which was held on Nov. 17 in order to combine the Christmas parade with the Shriners Ceremonial Parade. Some parade-goers groused about the early date and said Wilson shouldn’t celebrate Christmas before Thanksgiving.

“Based on this feedback, this year it was decided to call it a ‘holiday’ parade to include the entire holiday season,” Lynne Medlin, the WDDC’s board president, told the Times’ Lisa Boykin Batts.

While the “war on Christmas” is a longstanding narrative, so is “Christmas creep,” the phenomenon of increased commercialization that’s led to December’s marquee holiday horning in on Thanksgiving and practically the entire month of November. Traditionalists used to object to that, too.

We sympathize with the organizers, who tried to please everyone and were treated rudely for their efforts. Medlin said the downtown group’s members were “threatened, shamed and harassed” over the name change. That doesn’t reflect the Wilson Christmas spirit we know and love.

Folks who voiced their concern should take yes for an answer and throw their support behind this event and the hardworking folks volunteering their time to make it successful.

Parades are supposed to be fun. Come out to the Nov. 23 processional and bring your Christmas cheer.

THUMBS DOWN to the impending demolition of a historic home at 509 Kenan St. following a 5-1 Wilson City Council vote.

Lu-Ann Monson bought the 1928 bungalow in 2003 with grand plans to restore it to its former glory. Life got in the way, and with no evidence of significant preservation work done after 16 years, city leaders’ patience ran out Thursday.

The state of her properties — the Kenan Street house and another home at 301 Broad St. — created a conflict that ultimately led Monson to retire as the city of Wilson’s preservation planner under threat of dismissal. It doesn’t look good when a city official tasked with protecting historic homes from neglect allows her own houses to stagnate in disrepair.

Monson asked for more time to make the fixes, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. We don’t begrudge council members their skepticism, but who would a temporary reprieve of execution have hurt?

To us, this looks like a lose-lose outcome with plenty of fault on both sides. Seizing and destroying private property is an extreme step that smacks of authoritarianism and sours would-be preservationists on buying fixer-uppers in historic districts. Could the city have intervened earlier and provided more oversight?

Tearing down this home reflects poorly on all involved. When the bulldozers are through with their task and the literal and proverbial dust settles, who exactly will be better off?

THUMBS UP to the Salvation Army of Wilson and its new service center director, who’s working to stabilize and reinvigorate the local ministry after disputes between Wilson stakeholders and the national nonprofit led to a string of resignations.

Angela Bateman has hit the ground running and will need Wilsonians’ support as she tries to turn the page on past disagreements and lead the local Salvation Army into the future. Her hire and the refreshing candor with which regional officials have addressed the agency’s challenges are positive signs.

“Salvation Army has made a commitment to stay in Wilson County,” said Maj. David Phelps. “It may not look like it did 10 years ago, but we’re still serving the needs of the community.”

The Salvation Army shuttered its Wilson church in January and has converted its operation to a service center model. Through its social services, thrift store and Salvation Army-sponsored Boys & Girls Club, the ministry remains a vital charity on which hundreds of people rely.

We hope the United Way of Wilson County, longtime Salvation Army donors and other local nonprofits will offer their support to Bateman as she works to achieve the organization’s mission of “doing the most good.”

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