Thursday, November 21, 2013

Leave your politics out of my parade

The countdown to Thanksgiving is on. And while you may not yet have picked up your bird and all the trimmings yet, the fine folks from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade have been hard at work preparing for one of my favorite annual spectacles for nearly a year now.


Unfortunately for them even the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. So why should an 89-year tradition (it skipped two years during WWII, which is why this is the 87th annual parade) involving New York City’s flagship department store, bands, floats, celebrities, balloons and all other manner of entertainment be allowed to be unscathed?


That must be the thinking of some ranchers from South Dakota and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, both of whom have decided that politics trumps tradition and kids around don’t need a morning of fun -- what they need is a sermon.


It’s somewhat odd that the parade is being hit from both sides. The ranchers were upset that a vegetarian, Joan Jett, was representing their cattle-driven state. As such, they petitioned to have her removed. Jett volunteered to move to another float to avoid the controversy. PETA, meanwhile is upset that SeaWorld exists. They intend to protest the parade route in response to Macy’s refusal to sink the aquatic theme park’s float.


The parade has never seen this type of controversy. And it never should. Shame on the ranchers. And even more, shame on PETA. How dare they ruin the only part of Thanksgiving many kids (and myself) actually enjoy.


Macy’s official statement concerning the protests says, “The parade has never taken on, promoted or otherwise engaged in social commentary, political debate or other forms of advocacy.”


And why would they? It’s a parade, for the love of God. It’s a distraction from the mundanity of life, it gives kids something to be excited about. And at the end, when Santa comes down 6th Avenue headed towards 34th Street, it marks, for many, the start of the Christmas season. It is the official kickoff of the “most wonderful time of the year.”


So how can PETA taint that? Why would they want to ruin the kickoff to Christmas? They’re willing to poison the otherwise happy memories of children in order to push their political agenda. Rather than kids saying, “hey, mom, look! Minions!” they’ll be saying “why are those people so angry?”


Maybe you think I’m overreacting but from my perspective, ruining the Thanksgiving Day Parade is tantamount to treason. Maybe even terrorism. Why not just have Santa get mauled by tigers at the end of the parade?


Thanksgiving afternoon I’ll be choking down some turkey. And later that night I’ll be working - as I do every Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving morning, I plan on watching the parade and trying to avoid other people’s politics. I can only hope NBC focuses on the floats and avoids the flakes.


Scott Leffler loves animals. Especially served between two slices of bread with a side of potatoes. He also likes SeaWorld. Follow him on Twitter @scottleffler.