The National Cherry Festival approved — then revoked — Grand Traverse Area Teens for Life participation in the event’s children’s parade Thursday.
Right to Life – Grand Traverse Area posted on Facebook that the teens group was “denied our access” to the parade “very late” Wednesday night, “after being confirmed as a walking unit several weeks ago.”
The National Cherry Festival did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Midwesterner, but told the Record-Eagle, “It was basically a clerical error that it was allowed in the parade to begin with due to the parade rules that already exist regarding political and social issues.
“So that was our mistake.”
The paper reported festival executive director Kat Paye contacted Teens for Life “around 11 p.m. Wednesday” revoking the group’s approval.
“I was deeply apologetic that they could not be in the parade today,” she said.
“We are appalled that our next generation is being denied the chance to join their town in the annual Cherry Festival Parade, all in the name of intimidation and harassment and now a supposed clerical error. Our students look forward to peacefully walking with their community just as every other group who was approved gets the right to do so. We are proud of our students for being willing to outwardly march for life and we will continue to support them,” Grand Traverse Area Right to Life director Emily Hollabaugh said in a news release.
“These kids worked hard and made big plans for the parade with entertainment and custom t-shirts. Then, at the last minute – more than 5 weeks after being approved – they were cancelled because of political pressure. Once again, grown up problems and politics are ruining things for our kids,” state Sen. John Damoose (R) said.
Right to Life said the teen group has been participating in the parade “for years”.
“While the organization is in receipt of an approval to be part of the parade as a community organization, the parade organizer indicated she has received threats including personal threats which prompted organizers to cancel the teens’ participation,” the group said.