A South Carolina Christmas parade has turned into a political battleground.
And like all battles, it involves a flag. In this case, the Confederate flag.
The Summerville Christmas Parade is described on Summerville DREAM’s Facebook page as and “event that brings the community together to spread Christmas cheer.”
But it will also be controversial this year. That’s because the group The Carolina Flaggers, will be allowed to parade the Confederate flag during the Dec. 10 parade.
“The Carolina Flaggers will be participating in the Summerville Christmas Parade. Application is approved and fees are paid!”
According to its Facebook page, which has 484 likes and 492 followers, The Carolina Flaggers is “a South Carolina based Southern heritage community with the goal of reminding the people of South Carolina of our proud heritage.”
Their pages features posts with slogans saying, “Johnny Reb ain’t dead,” “We’ll always love it more than you hate it #DixieRising,” “We will not bow,” and “Making sure the South survives,” among many others.
The Carolina Flaggers are an offshoot of the South Carolina Secessionist Party, that doesn’t participate in political issues, according to multiple reports.
Both groups participated in the raising of the Confederate flag at a ceremony at the South Carolina State House in July.
And The Carolina Flaggers Facebook feed features several shared The South Carolina Secessionist Party’s posts that called for boycotts on businesses and opposition of politicians in elections – including Tommy Pope.
Famously, they participated in the flying of the Confederate flag when the NCAA Tournament was held in Greenville in March, part of the South Carolina Gamecocks men’s basketball team’s run to the Final Four.
Additionally, they have clashed with Louis Smith, who heads a group that has protested the presence of the Confederate Flag in Summerville.
This isn’t the first event in Summerville that The Carolina Flaggers have participated in. During the spring, the group flew battle flags from an Interstate I-26 overpass and painted Confederate flags on the Folly Boat several times this summer, according to postandcourier.com, adding they faced off with Smith’s group.
The Carolina Flaggers will be playing to what should be a much larger audience in the Christmas parade. Nearly 3,000 people are expected to participate in this year’s parade, with 25,000 spectators taking in the festivities.
“We are aware that there are people who are unhappy with this decision and want to assure them that it was not made lightly,” DREAM Executive Director Michael Lisle said to postandcourier.com. “We believe we have treated this group in a manner consistent with how we have traditionally treated other groups applying for space in the Christmas Parade.”
Some counter protests could be planned, with signs showing their disapproval. Others are urging spectators to turn their back when The Carolina Flaggers make their way down the parade route.
Tricia Cannon-Fisher said she is considering bringing signs promoting peace and community and walking alongside anybody in the parade who is waving the Confederate flag or using any replica weapons, journalscene.com reported.
“I don’t know why these people choose to be so offensive,” Cannon-Fisher said. “There’s no respect there. … It’s very sad.”