Utah County Democrats crying foul over holiday parade

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PROVO -- Democrats in Utah County are mad about what happened during Monday's Freedom Festival parade in Provo. They say the Republican Party was given an unfair advantage by campaigning in the parade.

The Utah County Democratic Party says its float in the parade followed the rules by not displaying political messages -- rather, a patriotic theme. Party leaders claim the Republican float was all about the upcoming campaigns, which violated parade rules, yet parade organizers didn't keep it out.

Grand Parade rule
Right to Refuse Participation
The Executive Committee reserves the right to refuse an entry into the parade if, in its sole judgment, it determines that the entry is controversial, unlawful, political, or otherwise considered to be inconsistent with the standards, theme, quality, or purposes of the Freedom Festival.

"There seem to be two sets of rules here: one set of rules for us -- which was you can't campaign, you can't have signs, you can't have any kind identification of the candidates, you can't have any political messages -- that's what they told us, and we abided by that," said Richard Davis, chairman of the Utah County Democratic Party. "The Republicans say they weren't told that. I don't know whether that's true or not."

"I watched as some of their candidates and some of their themes were actually campaigning, and actually what they used was a campaign speech against probably a lot of the Democratic challengers," said Lane Henderson, Democratic candidate for the Utah County Commission.

The Utah County Democratic Party leaders have now submitted an open letter to the Freedom Festival organizers, outlining their concerns.

CLICK TO ENLARGE part of Freedom Festival Grand Parade entry application asking how entry supports Festival's theme.
CLICK TO ENLARGE part of Freedom Festival Grand Parade entry application asking how entry supports Festival's theme.

The float in question displayed the GOP symbols and had several phrases, such as "cut government spending." U.S. Senate candidate Mike Lee also walked the route, shaking hands with people, and there were several campaign items passed to the crowd.

Parade organizers say they will look at the issue for next year's event.

"We were not totally happy with the way that things worked out with the Republicans, but we really do not like to have political kind of things in the parade. We like it to be just American. This is the great country that we live in, and it's wonderful, and we are not happy with some of the things that took place," said Paul Warner, executive director of America's Freedom Festival.

You can read the entire letter from the Utah County Democratic Party to parade organizers by clicking HERE.

E-mail: spernod@ksl.com


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