Thursday, February 15, 2024

Discussion time: Parade controversy

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Were you at this year’s Winter Carnival parade in Saranac Lake? This annual tradition is much loved by people near and far from the community. The event made news recently due to some controversy, stemming from a monster truck with a Confederate flag painted on its hood. Also a group of marchers with signs speaking out about the conflict in Gaza raised concerns from some, who feel that politics shouldn’t have a place in a local parade.

Read more here and weigh in here: Do you think it’s OK to work political commentary into parades? Should the parade committee have paid closer attention and kept the truck out? What should be done going forward?

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.

43 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    I believe all of this hubbub rests on the parade committee. If participants are screened prior to be accepted into the parade, content and tone is on them. Parades are displays by the people for the people. There isn’t much that is uniformly banned by the Constitution. It is up to the committee to create the tone and content of their parade.

  2. Gene says:

    Should have kept the truck out. The pro slavery rebel flag and anti Jew swastica are both way outside the boundaries of legitimate American political discourse

  3. Joan Grabe says:

    Where was the snow ? Not the typical Winter Carnival Parade. And not the typical parade with that truck. Not that the truck is an outlier in the North Country. Confederate flags abound in a place that could not be any further from the Confederacy and it obviously had permission. We all know that this undercurrent flows through the Park and we have to face it head on. The Confederacy was founded to preserve Slavery in the US and to spread slavery westward – and States rights cited were only to keep the practice of slavery intact and they had help in this belief by the Congress and the Supreme Court. It is ironic that slave owners tried to keep slaves illiterate but generations later we find that figurative sons and daughters of the Union, living in the North Country today, have not been taught the basic facts about the Civil War and espouse the myth and it’s poisonous ideas. Better they be out in the open about it. The Civil War was a bloody disaster and we have to be reminded of that fact every day.

  4. Scott Hurlburt says:

    You could suggest to the confederate flag truck owner that people equate the confederate flag with slavery and an attempt to violently overthrow the existing government. We welcome you to the parade but ask that you tarp or otherwise coverup the flag or over it up with an American flag that covers it up stressing that we want your participation just not your confederate flag

  5. Craig Catalano says:

    Politics have always been in the parade. This year two people running for the village board walked in the parade. In years past people running for state and federal offices have walked in the parade. Let’s just relax and not make a big deal about it.

  6. Alienor says:

    Welcome to Saranac Lake! Decidedly different! “We don’t have the colored much here. But I’ve never seen one that wasn’t welcome….”Go back and research what that flag is all about. Read, read, read.”
    Thank you Mr. Dupree for your erudite comments. What an embarrassing spectacle. I hope the thousands of visitors from around the state, the country, and maybe even around the world were impressed with our wonderful community, where a white supremacist flag can be proudly displayed (and not just in a parade, but all around the North Country), where a Carnival official says, “I just see it as a flag” and where that same Carnival official can assault a participant for having a political sign in their act. God forbid we have a tactful, mature conversation with them and ask them not to do it for reasons a, b, and c. Why didn’t he just say, “I just see it as a sign?” Saranac Lake should be ashamed of itself. We have a dysfunctional, toxic, incompetent, childish “government,” no affordable housing, municipal grants (my tax dollars) going to feed the for-profit tourism industry that doesn’t create any meaningful decent job and just brings more people we can’t absorb and more eyesores to the mountains….shall I go on? I moved here 25 years ago. I was so happy to be here. Lately it’s just been a colossal disappointment except for the mountains, lakes and wildlife. I feel very sad.

  7. Peter Wirth says:

    Wow – Tough call. Easiest thing is to say no. However, these are very important issues that should be addressed in public forums.

    Life and death for thousands of Palestinian civilians right now.

    I’m no supporter of a flag that represented slavery but feel they have a right to individual expression.

  8. Vanessa B says:

    Guys it’s been years, literally, since I wrote a column that got 100+ comments on this same topic. Absolute shame on the Winter Carnival committee for the miss here. They bear responsibility and should offer a very public, very robust apology. That’s literally it. That’s all that should be discussed here.

    Beyond that, this horse is quite dead and imo we should give its corpse a break before Stefanik is announced as VP and all of this “controversy” really hits the fan. Wait just wait until national reporters covering her start getting lost on the NoCo back roads. I do not envy poor Melissa her content moderation duties then :(.

  9. Bob Meyer says:

    If you are ignorant enough or racist enough to fly a confederate flag on your own property, that is your right. However, it has no place on public property in a public event sponsored in part by tax dollars.
    As for calling out the terrible violence against the people of Gaza, especially by the minister I did not see any mention of the violence against any Israelis.
    Where is the evenhanded fairness in that statement?

  10. Ed Burke says:

    Not the first time the Confederate flag has been in the parade. The Civil War re-enactors who fire those deafening muskets have carried a Confederate Flag in the past.

  11. Gene says:

    Will it be a problem if Elise’ campaign truck flies the confederates flag?

  12. Bill Keller says:

    Flying a confederate flag is telling the world that you are a ignorant racist. “Why did it become a symbol of [hate]” asked the truck owner. That is the ignorant part, it’s always been a symbol of hate and racism

    • Boreas says:

      I never flew the flag or used its image. But I grew up with it and it was basically a statement some people liked to make about their personality. A “rebel” if you will.

      But some groups used it after the Civil War as a symbol of racism and hate for their purposes of instilling FEAR. It was considered fairly benign in rural PA – in the 60s and 70s as the Klan wasn’t active where I lived. I am pretty-much desensitized to it now living in the North Country and it usually wouldn’t get my attention. They are flying all around where I live.

      BUT times have changed and some symbols have become much more “inappropriate” and the meanings have been “changed” WRT our current society – which is always changing. Just as the ubiquitous swastika was around for centuries before the Nazis incorporated it as THEIR symbol. Society has changed how we view certain symbols. Makes sense and we all need to become more sensitive – on BOTH sides. But we must keep in mind, symbols are a reflection of our culture – just like bumper stickers. Not all American flags displayed today are a simple sign of reverence or patriotism as it was when I was growing up.

      This was likely a simple oversight by the person who approved it. Doesn’t make it right, but I doubt he/she will do it again. As far as the truck owner in this case, if the parade people had banned it, he could have removed the offending hood from his truck for the parade and no one would have been the wiser.

  13. louis curth says:

    Discussion Time: And while we divide ourselves up-neighbor against neighbor-over an ill-advised Confederate flag in our local S.L. Winter Carnival parade, more urgent issues are being overlooked. Sorry Melissa, but the Adirondack Almanack seems too subjective about too many vital issues that paint a bleak future for our young people. Here’s just one example of our glaring global warming hypocrisy:

    “According to the business flight tracker WingX, there were 882 private jets that flew in and out of Las Vegas for the big game. Only Super Bowl LVII last year in Glendale, Arizona saw more private air traffic with 931 private flights.”

    “Sunday’s event ranks second in Sin City’s history trailing the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, which drew nearly 1,000 private jets to Southern Nevada.”

    “Divide and conquer” is a time honored method that has worked well so far for the rich, the corporate big wigs, and their bought-and-paid for political flunkies. Those of us of “the great unwashed” are increasingly being manipulated.

    How about we all get together to make our democracy work for the people? Let’s start with the politicians of all of stripes who lie, cheat and enrich themselves while they ignore their oaths, refuse to work together to help the people who voted for them and are struggling to have a decent life.

  14. Lillian Antoci says:

    A winter carnival parade show is only that and not a place for ANY political views, protest, or other means of sending a message. It should contain winter theme fun only. We should not be bombarded with personal views and feelings. It is an event to bring smiles, laughter, and fun. A day to leave our world’s trouble behind and enjoy the weather, fun, and games. Nothing more. There are times and places for self-expression and a winter carnival is not the place. This is a time when young and old can come together in peace for a little joy with no conflicts or negativity.

  15. ADKresident says:

    Cut me a break. I saw the truck. Unless you view everything through the lens of identity politics or race, the truck was most likely painted years ago w/ an American Patriotic intent conveying ‘being a ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, not racism. I bet the owner also listens to that ‘racist’ band Lynyrd Skynyrd too and needs to throw out all those offensive album covers. And oh no, what if he also watches Matlock? You know, that white supremacist Andy Griffith, whose courtroom displays the confederate flag behind the judge? We must burn the film!

    And no, I am not racist or ignorant of our history, but with everything else in this world that is far more serious, ‘this’ is what gets people’s emotions all riled up? Let’s just hang the guy by Lake Flower for his ‘so-called’ hatred of black people, right? After all, all those so easily offended have all the evidence they need as proof that he hates minorities & probably idolizes Hitler- his painted truck hood! And best yet, this just confirms the deep-rooted racism in the ADKs! Ridiculous.

    So, what about the women marching in their pink hats? Were they not making a political statement too? Of course they were! Crickets.

    There’s a time and a place for politics and protesting. It is my view that community parades are not the time or the place. But either way, I’m not going to allow the few spoil the joy and fun of the day.

    • Bob Meyer says:

      Oh dear ADKresident…. The times, ‘they are changing’ many of us are thankfully more aware of and sensitive to the feelings of others.
      Someone else posted that the SL Winter Carnival parade would best be non political. I agree. It should be carefully vetted to be an event for everyone without political or social baggage.
      There are other appropriate outlets for such expressions.

      • ADKresident says:

        ….”sensitive to the feelings of others”.

        Oh, dear, Bob. Our culture where ‘times are changing’ is also creating people that are becoming a bunch of pansies, not able to handle anything they disagree with or dislike without a meltdown. If something like a painted truck hood actually hurts one’s feelings, then they really need to get a grip on their emotions and/or get some help.

        Good grief, we are becoming a society of addiction where people are needing to get their ‘offense of the day’ fix, like a shot in the arm or they go into withdrawals looking for something to complain about.

        • Balian the Cat says:


          This is something of a sidebar but are you at least open to the idea that the “stars and bars” represent a foriegn aggressor (The CSA declared themselves sucecceded from and therefore not part of the USA) who attacked a government facility (Fort Sumter) killing American citizens and instigating the bloodiest war in American history? Can you see how the flag that they flew – and this is a whole other can of worms as the flag we see today is, as I understand it, not really representative of the cause as each southern state/unit had it’s own battle flag – is in the minds of many (like it or not many of us are northerners who’s ancestors might have walked to Maryland to die fighting it) the symbol of an enemy? I can’t undo the damage the lie of the Lost Cause has done, but I can see and appreciate where certain symbols are offensive and don’t deserve defense. Yes, the pink hats are stupid, but nobody ever bayoneted anyone while wearing one.

          • Boreas says:

            Let us not forget the US flag was flying proudly during the Indian Wars and many a massacre of innocents. Jim Crow laws existed for decades under the US flag.

            The US flag has been soiled regularly in the past and still holds those stains. When we display flags and symbols mindlessly is where we get into trouble. Best to do our individual research and make certain of our commitment to various causes before flying their flag. Certainly we all have a right in this country to do so, but others have a right to be offended.

            • ADKresident says:

              There is not a flag in the world that is not stained w/blood. We can either choose to magnify the sins of the past or forgive, learning from the past in order to forge a new future. No one can forge a future & succeed if they continue to drive forward while looking in the rearview mirror. You just wont get very far.

              And isn’t that a universal truth whether it be applied to an individual, a marriage, a community or a nation? If you want to stay stagnant, remain chronically offended because nothing distorts your vision and keeps you tethered to the past like a good offense. An offence will always build ‘a-fence” .

          • ADKresident says:

            Oh, I get it, BTC and I understand what you are saying~

            What I will not adhere to is believing that we are now morally superior than those of the past. How do you know how you would have reacted to living in the South and how many were forced to fight into a war they did not want to be in? Not everyone were racist plantation owners. And the truth is, you have no idea what it was like to live back then and neither do I. You can only assume and imagine through others’ writings and even then, it’s just a fraction of the true reality.

            One of the biggest mistakes we do today, IMO, is view and judge the past through the lens of the present and think that we would never be susceptible to committing such evil acts or participating in horrible atrocities, because clearly, if you just turn on the news, we are seeing it every day. The same violence exists, it is just taking on a different form with different motives .

        • Bob Meyer says:

          I agree with you on the over sensitivity of many. But….. there is a place and time for everything including personal political or issue expression.
          The SL parade is not an appropriate place for such symbols, intentionally or not. The parade vetters messed up on this one.
          Hopefully you are not suggesting that a black person attending should not react negatively to a Confederate flag, knowing what we know…please.

          • ADKresident says:


            I do not ascribe to a narrative that every black person being exposed to the sight of a flag becomes offended, nor do I desire to insult the intelligence of a black person that because of their skin color they should be treated like a victim and I need to become offended on their behalf. I choose to believe that blacks are no different than myself or anyone else and are far more less likely to take the bait of offense if we stop laying the traps for them, lowering the bar of expectation, and treated them more as equals and not chronic victims of society, because they are not.

            We are the only ones that keep the division alive and a black person who knows who he is, does not identify themselves strictly by skin color, is self-confident and has good values will not fall victim and/or get triggered by the sight of a flag on a truck hood. He/She is far, far greater than that~ If offenses never get the chance to germinate they have no chance to toxically infect others, causing even more strife. I say we practice and learn to NOT become so quick to take on an offense and start practicing more forgiveness towards one another on a regular basis so bitterness never gets the opportunity to take root. After all, I have never met a bitter person that radiated joy and/or peace. Not once. Have you?

  16. Zephyr says:

    Hate should always be kept out of a public parade, and that disgusting flag is pure hate. It is not political. It is hate.

  17. Bob Meyer says:


  18. Pete Wirth says:

    A lot of great comments. However, the more I think about it what is wrong with political statements at a parade? Local politicans often are riding in a car in my hometown parades. I’ve gone to many parades where military are represented. There are mainstream political representatives at many parades.

    Maybe we need to rethink what is “political” and be more open to a vibrant civic discourse on issues.

    Parade watchers have the right to “cheer” or “boo.”

    I’ve gone for many years from CNY to watch the Saranac parade. I wish I would have been there this year. I probably would have “booed” at the condfederate flag and cheered for the “ceasefire” marchers.

    What a novel idea. Lets have a “negotiated” settlement to the Israeli/Palestinian issue. Or, another option is to kill tens of thousands of civilians.

    • Zephyr says:

      That flag is not a political statement–it is pure hate. Imagine the reaction if the opposite flag were allowed saying “F*** White People!

      • ADKresident says:

        Oh, Zephyr, we do have those flags. They stand under the banner of BLM. And before you blow a gasket and defend the movement that went sour because of the massive fraud and misuse of millions of well-meaning donors, go listen/to or read the founders’ public statements if you have not educated yourself. Not only do they not hide their hatred of whites, they also hate the nuclear family and embrace Marxism. Real nice, loving folks, right there! But we shall just overlook these ‘present’ day facts, and cherry pick what is politically correct to say out loud.

        Hatred has no place anywhere but shall we call out those who fell for the corrupt BLM Movement ignorant and haters of white people? Of course not. Because it’s not true. How we love to cherry-pick what is considered to be acceptable anymore and what is not.

        • Bob Meyer says:

          Regarding BLM this is so full of misinformation that I don’t even know where to start. There are fringe people in every group from far right to far left but Esset goes one bad Apple does not spoil the bunch.

          • ADKresident says:

            No, Bob, it is not. Years ago, at the very onset of the movement I did my own research to find out what BLM truly stood for to see if it was something I wanted to support. I actually read what you call ‘misinformation’ on BLM’s official website PRIOR to them removing it ( I went back to read more later & what was there previously had been removed). Then the media began touting the bullhorn that what I had read was ‘misinformation’. The media was lying- I saw/read it for myself. Also, at the time there were videos of speeches from the founders that I watched that also were ‘conveniently’ removed from YouTube. So, no, I am not parroting any ‘right wing media’ or ‘misinformation’ because I was lucky enough to catch that info straight from the horses’ mouths prior to it magically disappearing and years before they were caught squandering / spending million$ on and for themselves. What I said is 100% true! I wish it were not.

            Yes, I agree, there’s fringes on both sides but unfortunately that gracious sediment is usually applied only towards one side. The ridiculous comment in this thread regarding Elise Stefanik flying the confederate flag is a perfect example.

  19. Bob Meyer says:

    See Zephyr and learn the truth. The Confederate flag is racist and hateful through and through. The folks who display it are either ignorant of its true meaning ( thinking it’s about “independence”, freedoms from government regulations or racist.

    One again I notice at complete absence of any mention of the Oct 7 attack on peaceful Israelis ( read Jews) in your condemnation. Humm?

    I do not excuse the terrible actions any bad actors on either side… but if you know your history of the Middle East you would know none of this is in isolation.

    • ADKresident says:

      For the record, Bob, I did not personally witness the protestors so I did not comment on them. However, in regards to the attack on Oct 7th, which was, IMO, Israel’s 9/11, I, unapologetically support Israel for defending herself.

      I despise ALL war, am sick over the loss of innocent life on both sides but cannot and will not support the anti-Semitic movements that are rising up within our own nation. That has no place anywhere, let alone a community parade.

    • Zephyr says:

      We’re commenting on an article about displays in a parade. Calls for a ceasefire are not hate speech. The Confederate flag is.

      • Bob Meyer says:

        I totally agree, Zephyr. The loss of all life is tragic without exception… Well, maybe Putin and a few others. I too wish for a cease-fire, and I wish for Hamas and Hezbollah to lay down their arms and agree to recognize Israel. I wish for Israel to recognize a viable Palestinian state and deal effectively with those settlers who will not respect a Palestinian state.

  20. Gary Palmirotto says:

    Definitely 100% no on politics in the Carnival!!!
    Ridiculous and it needs to be stopped in it’s tracks!!!

  21. Zephyr says:

    Whataboutism and bothsidesism prove exactly the opposite of what you think they do.

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