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Wednesday, May 22 2013 6:31 PM EDT2013-05-22 22:31:56 GMT
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November 25, 2003
Albany -- A Confederate re-enactor troupe has participated in the Albany Holiday parade for the last dozen years, but this year, their application was thrown out.
Organizers had to choose between the Confederate group and the Albany State band and chose the band, saying the Confederate group does not belong in a Christmas Parade. The re-enactors say it's pure racism.
Members of the Second Confederate War Between the States re-enactment group show students at Twin Oaks Elementary school what a soldier's life was like in the 1860's. For the last 12 years about 20 members of the group have marched in the Celebration of Lights Holiday Parade, but this year they're not allowed.
President of the Confederate Group, Harry Robertson said "It's out of ignorance. We are not racist. We are not the Klan. We are a heritage preservation organization."
Turns out, Albany State's band never even applied to march in the parade, but Parade Coordinator Lorie Farkas wanted them to. So she called band director Michael DeQuire Friday. His said the only way they would be in the parade is if the Confederate re-enactors weren't. Farkas said, "They did, they said it was offensive to them."
"How in the world could we cause someone else not to take part in a parade?" Albany State Director of Public Information Marsha Aaron reminds people they are not in charge of this parade."We had absolutely nothing to do with anyone being excluded. That was not our call, and not something we would want to do."
Farkas says "You know we're at the very end, the parade is a week away. And there is not time to sit down and have big discussions. Bands make a parade."
Parade rules require all entrants to wear holiday apparel. Farkas said "They have been in a long time. It's just slipped under the radar. I'm sorry that we did not address it sooner."
So why has the Confederate group been allowed to participate for the last 12 years without the rule being enforced?
They were told they could march, if they did not wear their uniforms. "They said we could put on our overalls and march in the parade," said Robertson. "We're not hillbillies. We're not going to break out our hound dogs and be Billy Bob and the Dukes of Hazard."
The Celebration of Lights Holiday Parade is paid for by taxpayers, who the Confederate group says are footing the bill for organized racism.
So the Second Georgia re-enactment group will not participate in Albany's parade, but will march in Moultrie's Christmas Parade, the same night as Albany's parade.