Senator James Inhofe
205 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 -3603
Dear Senator Inhofe,
This Land Press is honored to take on a long-standing Tulsa tradition by sponsoring the annual downtown Holiday Parade of Lights on December 10th. After little more than eighteen months, This Land Press now operates one of Oklahoma’s largest online media communities and it’s our turn to follow earlier sponsors in supporting a decades-long Oklahoma tradition.
Senator, This Land invites you to rejoin the parade on this special evening. It’s important to our community.
None of us could have anticipated last year’s media frenzy. Everyone from Fox News to The New York Times to Conan O’Brien to Jon Stewart and The Daily Show had something to say. We may not always share the same opinion in Oklahoma, but we don’t need outside help. It’s not their parade. It’s ours.
A few years ago, someone decided to broaden the scope of the parade by changing the name to the “Holiday Parade.” We can’t speak for that person, but it’s clear the intention was to be inclusive. That makes sense. Senator, a parade is a unique tradition in American culture. It brings together a community in ways that are different than church services and faith-based activities, but it is every bit as meaningful.
When I was a kid, my dad would take my siblings and me to the parade each year. Our mom would usually stay home and wrap gifts, bake miniature fruitcakes, or set up our old ceramic Nativity scene and cotton-ball Santa.
My dad would welcome neighborhood kids, including my dear friend and next-door neighbor, Joel Kantor, who happens to be Jewish. His faith didn’t matter. We’d always wind up together in the wayback of the Country Squire. Downtown, we’d line the sidewalks in the bitter cold for a chance to see high school bands and dance teams; Shriners in funny little cars; floats sponsored by businesses, churches, and community organizations; pageant princesses and queens; and, of course, Santa Claus. We’d go warm up in my dad’s office in the Philtower.
It was called a “Christmas Parade” then, but it had little to do with the faith that my parents passed on to their five kids. Now that the parade is a holiday parade, it respects Joel’s faith. And mine. Joel and I are now business partners, and we hope that there are hundreds of kids in Tulsa who’ll share the parade in the same way that we do.
Senator, the parade organizers and This Land want to be inclusive and respectful of the views you articulated. So, we are taking some additional steps to reach out.
First, we all understand and share your commitment to faith. It’s part of Oklahoma. This Land Press will encourage Tulsans to express their personal religious beliefs in their own way and at the appropriate place during the weekend of the Holiday Parade. We will provide an online listing at thislandpress.com of religious and community services in Tulsa.
Second, an interfaith group of clergy are being invited to serve as Honorary Grand Marshalls. Several have already accepted, including the Rev. Monsignor Greg Gier of Holy Family Cathedral, Pastor Deron Spoo of First Baptist Church, and Dr. Calvin McCutchen, Sr., of Tulsa’s historic Mt. Zion Church.
Third, the holiday parade is working with The Salvation Army of Tulsa to collect gifts for low-income children as part of their Forgotten Angels project. Parade sponsors and This Land will encourage the Tulsa community to support the Salvation Army and bring additional toys to the parade, and the BOK center will provide hot chocolate and ice-skating for all Tulsans.
Fourth, the parade will welcome, for the first time in its history, the participation of Tulsa’s Jewish and Muslim communities.
Finally, we can’t ignore, and should celebrate, the role that commerce plays in America. Christmas parades were often organized by merchants to encourage shoppers to come to central shopping districts for gifts. An article by Natasha Ball in the next issue of This Land will tell the story of the origins of Tulsa’s parade and the role of some familiar merchants. Downtown Tulsa is coming back to life. New restaurants and retail and entertainment establishments can be found across its map. New housing is on the way. New bridges. The Holiday Parade is good for Downtown.
The parade is underwritten not only by This Land Press but by a wide range of Oklahoma businesses, including KTUL channel 8, AEP–Public Service Company of Oklahoma, Nordam, Southwest United Industries, the Bama Companies, Arvest Bank, American Airlines, Tulsa Drillers, Kanbar Properties, Gallagher Risk Management, Crowe + Dunlevy, Bank of Oklahoma, Bill White Co., and McNellie’s group, among others.
So, Senator Inhofe, we invite you to come home and be part of the parade we share with all Tulsans. It’s important to our community. We want to address your concerns in ways that are both inclusive and respectful of faith; we want to help Downtown continue to grow; and we want to preserve a wonderful Tulsa tradition.
We want all Oklahomans to know that this parade is our parade, just as much as this land is our land.
This Land Press