Opportunity missed in controversy

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 13, 1999

Tammi Mullins issued a valid plea on Friday. &uot;I know you’ll write what you want … it’s just that we don’t need anymore controversy,&uot; said the director of the Natchez Downtown Development Association. &uot;I just wish everyone would just try it this year, just give it one year, and we’ll see how it goes.&uot;

&uot;It&uot; is the Natchez Christmas parade, a nearly 10-year tradition that has suddenly become a political hot-potato in our community.

Marilyn Jackson, the Natchez woman who has nearly single-handedly organized the parade for the past nine years, is out as director after a fallout between Jackson, the Natchez police chief, and others.

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The NDDA is taking over the parade, and switching it to a morning parade. The reason, Mullins said, is two-fold: safety concerns about the nighttime parade and downtown merchants’ beliefs that their business will suffer less — and possibly even benefit — from a morning parade.

While we, like many others, seriously doubt the switch to daytime will bring any real benefits to downtown merchants, it is — at least for this year — a reality.

And we agree with Mullins that, at this point, the best move for all of us in Natchez is to make the best of this parade effort … and to learn an embarrassing and unfortunate lesson on building consensus.

Anytime a long-giving volunteer is made to feel as if a project is taken away from her, for whatever reason, someone in a leadership role has failed to build consensus and to properly recognize and appreciate that volunteer, her efforts and her opinions.

And an opportunity has been missed to build a stronger community, bit by bit.