Emory Bryan, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe started a recent controversy about the name of Tulsa's Christmas parade. He said he would not take part now that "Christmas" isn't part of the name.
There's been a lot of confusion about the name change as Tulsa's traditional Christmas parade has a long history, which always included Santa Claus and Christmas.
The name has changed slightly over the years, but only in the last year was Christmas dropped from the official title.
No one seemed to notice then, but now everyone has, including Conan O'Brian.
In a recent monologue, Conan poked fun at the situation. "A Senator from Oklahoma said he will not participate in his state's holiday parade until they put Christ in the events title... So everybody get ready for this year's "Christ it's cold parade," he joked.
The laughter didn't reach City Hall where Councilor Rick Westcott delayed the parade a permit so the full council could discuss the name change next Tuesday.
The permit was approved without issue last year, even though Christmas wasn't part of the name then either.
City records show in 2007 it was still the PSO Christmas Parade of Lights, and again in 2008. In 2009, Christmas was dropped from the title, at least on the permit application, without fanfare.
Certainly no one at the parade would have noticed. "We came to watch the Christmas parade and get in the Christmas spirit," said a 2009 parade watcher.
But this year Senator Inhofe, who often rides in the parade on horseback, said he's refusing to take part because of the change.
Inhofe issued a statement to the media proclaiming "I'm not going to ride in a Christmas parade that doesn't recognize Christ."
Over the years, the official name clearly included Christmas.The official poster for the parade even said so.
The name changed after Christmas was dropped, again after PSO dropped out as sponsor, then again now that McNellies signed on.
Now it's back to a holiday parade, without Senator Inhofe, but otherwise with the same floats and Santa, as dictated by tradition that's not so easily changed.
Senator Inhofe will take part in other parades that are called Christmas parades. Other state politicians are weighing in now and the city council gets their chance Tuesday.
We've got all the records online, including those about the interim name between sponsors - which was simply the Tulsa Christmas Parade of Lights.
Lacie Lowry will have an interview with Senator James M. Inhofe in the 10 p.m. newscast.