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Annual Holiday Parade In Rowan Co. Ends Due To Hate Mail, Threats

Salisbury Holiday Caravan Parade

The group that organizes the annual holiday parade in Salisbury and Spencer announced this week that it's shutting down the event. Holiday Caravan cites hate mail and threats to protest the parade as part of the reason.

The group posted a statement on its website saying the threats began to arrive last November after the parade denied entry to a number of gay rights supporters who hoped to ride on a float sponsored by Avita Pharmacy.

The gay rights supporters were members of the group Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and arrived the morning of the parade with rainbow flags, beads, and banners. When they were asked to leave, members of the group told The Charlotte Observer they felt as though they were being discriminated against.

But parade organizors maintain that it was simply against parade rules. The float had been approved solely for Avita Pharmacy, and no other group was allowed to advertise on the float.

Veleria Levy, who originally applied for the float on behalf of Avita, had sent a series of emails to parade organizers in the days leading up to the parade saying the phamacy had had an "emergency" and half of the people who planned to ride on the float were no longer able.

Parade organizers responded by saying Levy could let anyone she liked ride the float, but that they would not be able to advertise anything other than the pharmacy.

In their statement released this week, parade organizors blasted the Avita entrants as "pre-meditated, full of hate, assumptions and lack of knowledge," and said parade volunteers had recieved hate mail, emails, and threats to protest the 2018 parade following the incident. The threats were sent to volunteer's personal emails, home addresses, social media, and places of employment, the statement said.

"The personal attacks on these people's livelihoods, local businesses they own, place of employment, and them just as a human being were unprovoked and no volunteer should ever have to endure something of that nature," the statement read.

The parade had been in operation for 58 years, according to the parade's website.

Correction: This story has been updated to make clear that a private organization, Holiday Caravan, ran the parade and made the decision to cancel the event. It was not the decision of Salisbury city government officials.