Local group forms to continue holiday parade

Published 12:10 am Sunday, August 12, 2018

By Andie Foley

It’s a time-honored tradition for Salisbury and Spencer residents that starts for many the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

You park a spare car to save a space. Around 10:30 the next morning, you gather in front of your reserved space on blankets and lawn chairs and prepare for the show.

For 58 years, the Holiday Caravan parade provide just that: a show containing marching bands, steel drums, go-karts, dance troupes, clown cars and more.

The tradition was threatened in late July when organizers decided t0 cancel the event. And then concerned citizens gathered to formulate a plan.

The plan? To see that our hometown parade lives on.

Accordingly, the group is working to form a nonprofit corporation to manage the event. For 2018, its members plan to fill Salisbury and Spencer’s streets with a new incarnation of the Holiday Caravan: the ‘Tis the Season Spectacular.

Participating in the incorporation of the nonprofit group are Tammy Pinkston, Scott and Kathy Adams, Al Heggins, Rusty Miller, A.J. Alexander, George W. Benson, Donna Odrosky, Susan Thomas and P.J. Ricks.

The idea came following a Thursday meeting held by former Holiday Caravan board president Tammy Pinkston and local attorney Rocky Cabagnot.

Pinkston was president of the Holiday Caravan board from 2009 until July 13 when she was voted off.

Her abrupt removal from the board came just 18 days before the board announced that it would no longer host the seasonal staple, citing a 2017 controversy involving the Salisbury Rowan Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG.

PFLAG had applied to participate in the parade in 2014 and 2015 but been denied. Veleria Levy, a representative of float sponsor Avita Pharmacy, invited PFLAG to ride on the Avita float last year.

The group was removed from the float as organizers said they had specified float riders could only wear advertisements for the sponsoring float.

Organizers said they removed the float as PFLAG participants were wearing shirts with the group’s logo and carrying PFLAG and rainbow flags.

The volunteer board said following the parade, its members received hate mail, emails and threats.

Pinkston and Cabagnot announced Sunday, Aug. 5, their plans to host an organizational meeting for a “community annual holiday parade.”

“We are stepping up, not to take over, but to help the new group get off the ground,” a press release that came to the Post from Pinkston said.

Around 25 attended the meeting, including Salisbury Mayor Al Heggins, Spencer Mayor Jim Gobbel, and the Adamses.

The Adamses have played the parts of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus for several years during Rowan’s annual parade.

Cabagnot volunteered to guide the group through the process of forming a nonprofit corporation in North Carolina, as he formerly managed the Charlotte School of Law’s nonprofit legal assistance clinic.

He also explained the process to obtain tax-exempt status and offered his services for free.

Cabagnot said the process of incorporation for ‘Tis the Season Spectacular as a nonprofit group should be finished next week.

Details on next steps are to follow, according to members of the group’s fundraising and media committee.

“There is a lot of work to do. Fortunately, an energetic group of 20-plus citizens representing Spencer and Salisbury were … willing to serve on committees and to bring additional citizens into the group,” said committee member Hen Henderlite in an email to the Post. “We are very early in the planning process but believe with the support of the community, the parade will be a successful holiday event.”