La Jolla parade organizers decline mediation in name-change issue

By Pat Sherman

Members of the La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival Foundation declined to enter mediation with a group that is once again proposing that the word “Christmas” in the event’s title be replaced with something that doesn’t reference a particular religion, potentially isolating some non-Christians in La Jolla.

In an e-mail provided to

La Jolla Light

by name-change proponent Howard Singer: Kathy Purcell, a case manager with the West Coast Resolution Group, states that Christmas Parade co-chair Jack McGrory phoned her to say parade organizers were declining to mediate. Purcell said “mediation is a voluntary process” and “always available if all parties are interested.”

The city secured the services of West Coast Resolution Group to help mediate such disputes.

After hearing testimony from Singer and other name-change proponents, organized as the Diversity and Inclusiveness Group, the city’s Human Relations Commission (HRC) advisory group drafted a letter to the offices of Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and Interim City Council President and La Jolla resident Sherri Lightner. The letter, dated Oct. 24, requests the officials’ support for HRC’s recommendation that a dialogue be facilitated between parade organizers and name-change proponents.

“The Commission sees there is a community-based conflict of values and goals and that in these situations, dialogue leads to greater understanding and can lead to positive outcomes and resolution,” the letter states.

The letter goes on to state that after being briefed on the city’s special-use permit regulations, “it is clear costs (for the parade) are reimbursed and that objections to the name of the event is not grounds for denial of a permit.”

HRC Chair Mark Dillon told the


that after speaking with the HRC’s attorney, the commission found that the parade committee is not violating any laws.

“They’re a 501(c)(3), they’re a private entity, they’re not part of the city, so there’s nothing the mayor or the HRC can do to cause this private entity to change its name.”

Dillon said the HRC did not get a response to its letter from the offices of either Gloria or Lightner. A representative for Lightner confirmed that she received the letter, though declined to comment further.

“What we were hoping is that they would recognize this as an ongoing issue, that it would be nice to resolve,” Dillon said. “Presumably they could say something, call someone.

“Unless (both sides) are (inclined) to work together it’s going to be very hard to change things,” he said, noting that the addition of the “Holiday Festival” in 2005 shows parade organizers have been “somewhat responsive over time.”

Though Dillon said it is too late to do anything this year (the parade is at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 on Girard Avenue), he said the HRC told name-change proponents they would put them on the agenda for the HRC’s January meeting, if they wish.

“Then the commissioners will again consider if there’s anything more we can do,” he said. “There’s no guarantee that there is anything more we can do … (but) we’ll listen again and maybe we’ll be more creative and we’ll see. We’re not closing (the door). We just have limitations to what we can do.”