Budget Shortfalls Blamed for Nixing Holiday Parade

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Santa Claus won’t be making his annual early visit to Pennsylvania’s capital city.

Officials in Harrisburg have canceled the city’s annual holiday parade because organizers haven’t raised enough money.

Last year, the cash-strapped capital started requiring special events to pay for themselves. Parks and recreation director Brenda Alton says not enough sponsors have ponied up to keep the floats afloat.

Mayor Linda Thompson says she’s hopeful the parade can be pulled off in 2012.

The parade has traditionally marked the start of the holiday season with floats, bands and balloons and the arrival of Santa Claus.

Parade organizers in the suburban Philadelphia town of Hatboro say a shortage of donations may force them to cut back their parade. Santa may have to hoof it rather than ride a float.

AFA Cashes in on War on Christmas

The emails insist it is your duty to defend the phrase “Merry Christmas” — and to let anyone you know exactly what’s wrong with the words “Happy Holidays”. The emails, of course, are from the American Family Association, who will spend the next 8 weeks reminding people that there is a War on Christmas. (Though there seems to be a truce of sorts during this recession.)

The AFA, like other Christian conservative groups, believes that people who say “Happy Holidays” are not celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. It sells seasonal buttons reading, “It’s okay to say Merry Christmas … I bring you good news of great joy.”

The AFA sent out an email alert on September 23, urging people to “Take a stand for Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays — Help preserve our tradition of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ by sponsoring Project Merry Christmas in your church.”

The AFA, in the true tradition of Christmas marketers everywhere, encourage all buyers to “order now, operators are standing by”.

They will give their button campaign a boost at the first sign of the word Christmas being banned in a school…which should happen any day now.

New Thomas the Tank Engine Video Erases Christmas

Producers of a new Thomas the Tank Engine video, popular with kids around the world, are taking heat for removing all references to Christmas in a new video set for release before the 2011 Christmas season. The storyline is about competing trains who want to win a coveted prize of carrying all the presents of the children during a “winter holiday party” filled with “decorated trees”. Advance word of the release of the video has parent groups up in arms.

Hit Entertainment, the company behind the DVD, defended the release as it said about the video: “It was put out some time ago. It was not a seasonal release specifically aimed at a Christmas audience, but we do put out seasonal releases that have Christmas in the title. Last year we had Christmas Express and next year we are planning another Christmas title.”

However, John Midgely, of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: “This is an attempt to write Christmas out of something that is so popular with families.”

The original Thomas characters were created by Reverend Wilbert Awdry in 1945 while he was a vicar.