Originally created 03/17/04

Parade will permit crosses



Today, observers at the downtown Augusta St. Patrick's Day Parade will see crosses amid traditional green, officials said Tuesday.

"You know, we never really had a knife to grind with this thing except we wanted to see crosses dealt with correctly," said Bill Conkright, who runs the Alleluia Community's youth ministry.

The statements came after The Augusta Chronicle reported that the parade's organizers refused to allow a group from the Alleluia Community to carry crosses in today's parade, which is organized by the Irish-American Heritage Society.

Mr. Conkright and John Scherer Jr., the grand marshal for today's parade, said that both groups met Tuesday and reached an agreement that will allow Alleluia's group to march in the parade with crosses.

Both described the matter as a misunderstanding that's been resolved.

"I never want the cross to be a divisive issue," Mr. Scherer said. "And that's why we're trying to make sure that doesn't happen."

Mr. Conkright said there was concern about the appropriateness of the dress of the community's marchers, and a rumor had started that the marchers were going to dress like Christ and portray his passion.

"With that, I could see a concern for the appropriateness of that," Mr. Conkright said.

But he said he talked to one of the group's members who had applied to march in the parade, who said that they never applied to portray Christ in the parade.

Mr. Conkright said the group will wear green and carry heavy wooden crosses about 6 feet tall.

"It's going to be a great day for the Irish, and we invite everybody to come down and participate with us," Mr. Scherer said.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.