CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The mayor of West Virginia's capital city on Thursday reversed a decision to change the name of the annual holiday parade after intense backlash from church leaders and conservatives.
Mayor Amy Goodwin announced on Monday that she planned to rename the "Charleston Christmas Parade" the "Charleston Winter Parade" to demonstrate that Charleston is an inclusive city.
Officials from several churches quickly criticized the decision and said they wouldn't attend. State Senate President Mitch Carmichael, a Republican, issued a statement saying the renaming was the handiwork of "Charleston's elite liberals."
"We are calling on Mayor Goodwin and her liberal allies to end this madness and allow our citizens to freely and fully exercise their Freedom of Religion with a CHRISTMAS PARADE," he said.
Under pressure, Goodwin publicly withdrew the name change on Thursday. In a Facebook post, she said "the kind of vitriol that has come forth" over the secular parade title has been "disappointing and hurtful."
"After much consideration and conversation with religious leaders from all faiths and community members, we have decided to keep the name, 'Charleston Christmas Parade,'" she wrote. "We understand the history and tradition of the parade and we want to continue that for years to come."