Christ Makes a Comeback in City Parade

Holiday is out.

Christmas is in.

The Manteca Ministerial Association – led by Pastor Mike Dillman of the First Assembly of God – is making it possible for the Manteca Chamber of Commerce to stage a Christmas parade and not a holiday parade in downtown when December rolls around.

The association has pledged $1,000 to help cover the cost of municipal services that in the past have been “in-kind” donations from the City of Manteca.

Since there won’t be any taxpayer support of the parade – direct or indirect – the chamber will be able to advertise the event as the Manteca Twilight Christmas Parade instead of the Holiday Parade as has been done in the past.

“We’re thrilled,” said Manteca Chamber of Commerce chief operating officer Debby Moorehead.

Moorehead approached the ministerial association which quickly agreed to see what they could do. Every church participating answered in the affirmative backing up their answer with a pledge of funds to cover the cost for police services, municipal crews blocking streets, and the clean-up afterwards.

The procession for years was referred to as the Christmas parade until a slew of challenges by various groups forced cities that in some capacity or another – a manger in a public park or helping support community events with the word Christmas attached- into lawsuits costing big bucks to defend.

The Manteca City Council, on advice of legal council a few years back, pulled the plug on the word “Christmas” being allowed for use in promoting the parade. The reason wasn’t because it was conducted on city streets but rather the city contributed in-kind to staging the event by footing the bill for police and street department services needed that day.

Although no one ever officially challenged the use of municipal money to assist in staging the Manteca parade that typically draws 8,000 people downtown and more than 120 entries, the council didn’t want to expose the city to a costly separation of church and state lawsuit. So they stipulated the parade could only take place with city help if it was called “the holiday parade.”

By Dennis Wyatt, Manteca Bulletin

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