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Mrs. Raleigh Fights For Spot In City's Christmas Parade

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The 2002 Raleigh Christmas Parade is scheduled for Nov. 23. and participants are getting ready for the 58th annual event.

One local pageant queen is questioning the parade's policy of who is invited after she said organizers shut her out.

Melanie McNeely was mistakenly accepted into the Raleigh Christmas Parade as Miss Raleigh instead of Mrs. Raleigh, the title she holds.

When the mistake was pointed out, organizers said parade policy stated only Miss North Carolina contestants are allowed to ride in cars in the parade.

Parade organizer John Odom said there were just too many pageant winners who wanted to participate.

"We'd like to have Mrs. Raleigh in the parade, but we have a procedure. If we change that procedure two weeks before the parade, we would have chaos the minute we did it," Odom said.

McNeely thinks it is ridiculous that as Mrs. Raleigh, there is no place for her in Raleigh's Christmas Parade.

"If I can't even make a simple appearance in the Christmas parade in my town, what other appearances am I going to be able to do? I'm not really going to be able to reign as Mrs. Raleigh because I'm not going to be accepted," she said.

The only Miss North Carolina contestant appearing in the parade will be Miss Spivey's Corner. Misty Clymer inquired about participating, but then declined.

"They found out we do not pay for people to be in the parade," Odom said.

If McNeely still wants to be in the parade, Odom said she will have to rent a float. McNeely and the Mrs. North Carolina Pageant Organization are considering filing a discrimination lawsuit.

The parade is sponsored by the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association.


Lynda Loveland, Reporter
Ken Corn, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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