Competing parades march in Lexington

Published: Jan. 14, 2017 at 5:13 PM EST
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The parade that triggered months of back and forth debate over permits and moral authority went off without a hitch.

“I wanted, like I think all the other organizers, to have an event where we get to say: This is who we are," says Robin LeBlanc, the parade's Coordinator of Security and Logistics. "Where we get to see the real face of Lexington instead of being made into some controversy that fundamentally the people who live are aren’t a part of.”

And Lexington’s Main Street, which had been filled with Confederate flags on this day for years, instead saw a very different crowd.

“And this is a great show of all the good people in this area that care about equality, and care about love, and care about peace!” says Rocky Parker of Harrisonburg as he marched and led cheers.

Lexington native Natalie Harris explains: “This is very important because we never include everyone at this time of year. Everyone is to be included.”

An hour later, at the foot of the statue marking “Stonewall” Jackson’s grave, the Virginia flaggers gathered for speeches and ceremony.

“Aren’t you glad," asked one speaker, "That you are descendant of a Confederate, Southern American!”

Then they set out on a “procession,” walking single-file down the sidewalk in a parade that technically wasn’t a parade, and thus didn’t require a permit.

“We’re kind of good at flanking maneuvers, like ‘Stonewall’ Jackson was," explains Susan Hathaway of the Virginia Flaggers. "And so we decided to do single file on the sidewalk, and I don’t know how many people just down here told me it was better than the parade usually was.”

A mass celebration of the Old South marked the end of their walk as they gathered in a small park.

“I don’t know when people will realize if they would just leave us alone and let us honor our ancestors as we wish, things would go a lot better,” Hathaway says.