Albany-- There's yet another controversy brewing around Albany's Holiday Parade. The Darton College Republicans and the Dougherty County Republican Party are banned from participating. GOP leaders say they're exclusion is unfair. But, the rules are pretty clear.
Last year's Christmas parade was the first time the Darton College Republicans participated. Darton College student Liz Schillo says, "We, oh my gosh, we had a great time."
But the good times are over. The college students and the Dougherty County Republican Party have been banned from the parade.
In a news conference Friday morning, they say they weren't even allowed to apply. Dougherty County Republican Party Chairman, Donald Cole, says, "She (Liz Schillo) was told to come back Wednesday and that they might let them in but they didn't want to give us an application. At that point we said we are not going to be going through this arbitrary process here."
But, the rules are clear. The 2003 application for the parade states specifically that "No political entries will be accepted." What's not clear is how long that rule has been around. Cole says, "I don't know if that is a new rule or whether that was a different interpretation of the rule. But, the fact is we applied last year. We were in the parade last year and now this year they are saying we can't be."
A sign on the GOP float last year might be the reason why--it said "Vote Republican." Parade organizers asked them to cover the word "Vote". Some say the cover fell off during the parade. Schillo says, "I don't remember anything falling off the word vote, but if it did, we apologize."
The students who built the float are sorry--but say they were never told it was a problem. All they want now is to participate in the parade--even if that means covering up their political message.
In a phone interview, Mayor Tommy Coleman called the GOP news conference "irresponsible" in light of the racial tensions brought on by earlier controversy surrounding the Albany State University band and Confederate re-enactors.