Dropping Christmas but Keeping the Manger

The Patchogue, NY Greater Foundation located on Long Island, sponsors a boat parade on the Sunday after Thanksgiving each year. Last year the name was changed from the Patchogue Holiday Boat Parade to the Patchogue Christmas Parade of Lights.

This year, another name change, dropping Christmas…this time to accommodate those without a connection to Christmas holidays. Last year, 1500 people attended the parade. This year 1000 people attended. According to City Father’s, this year’s parade was a success. What?

Where were those disconnected to Christmas – you know, the ones you made the change for – the ones you were willing to abandon tradition for – the tradition that the City added just last year? They certainly didn’t show – and if they did, they didn’t fill the void left by those wanting a Christmas boat parade. If this year’s 1000 were all disconnected from Christmas, and stayed home out of protest last year, 1500 either connected or disconnected to Christmas stayed home in protest this year. The point: last year’s parade was more successful by one-third more attendees than this year’s parade.

A fireworks sponsor, the famed Fireworks by Grucci, pulled their donation after the name change. Grucci Vice President, Philip Butler, encouraged his supporters to stay away from the event this year, saying that the Patchogue Foundation is “using all the themes of Christmas and plagiarizing all those themes,” to which blogger Roger Sinasohn at Holidash sniped: “Not that most of the themes of Christmas weren’t lifted from other religions in the first place.”

Well, yes, civilizations do “borrow” from each other. We borrowed St. Nicholas, and stockings on the fireplace, but we did not borrow celebrating the birth of Christ, or “giving” gifts to those we adore – the tradition of “giving” in honor of the Christ-child. Amid all the lights and Santas and elves, for the Christian the birth of the baby Jesus is always there as the reason for the season.

See a video of the parade here, complete with Santa and reindeer, a Manger scene, Snoopy and wrapped packages, and Angels with their trumpets proclaiming the birth. How long before the Manger scene is banned?

The Patchogue Chamber of Commerce President Charles Baker accused Fireworks by Grucci of wanting to “buy the name.” The city Mayor, Paul Pontieri says fireworks makes him think of “July 4th, not Christmas.” Does Patchogue have a 4th of July Boat Parade, and if so what is the name of the celebration? How about a New Year’s Eve celebration? Are there fireworks at either? Fireworks are an expression of celebration, no matter the time of year. I applaud the Grucci’s, who “gave” a donation for a cause they appreciated. This year the City has said that “gift” was not appropriate anyway – it really only belonged at an Independence Day celebration. Let’s see how long it takes them to find another sponsor not connected to Chrismas.

Kelleen Gueyer at Patchogue.com, who says she is a Patchouge resident, but not an official of the city in any way, believes Patchogue is unfairly characterized as anti-Christmas, saying the City has numerous public Christmas events and she is glad to see the “Holiday” parade back, as it has been for 13 years.

The City “gave” the citizens a Christmas boat parade last year…now they’ve abolished it. It’s a fair question to ask: why did Patchogue add “Christmas” in the first place? Whatever the reason, this year’s crowd clearly demonstrated that a non-Christmas parade is far less popular than a Christmas parade.