LGBT group challenges denial to march in Anoka Halloween parade - KMSP-TV

LGBT group challenges denial to march in Anoka Halloween parade

Justin Aaberg Justin Aaberg
ANOKA, Minn. (KMSP) -

Anoka is the self-proclaimed "Halloween Capitol of the World," and among its most popular events is the annual Grand Day Parade, which features floats from the around the community decorated to celebrate the holiday.

But absent from the parade this year will be a float for Justin's Gift, a support group formed in memory of Justin Aaberg, a gay teen who took his own life after being a victim of bullying.

Justin's Gift was sent a letter by parade organizers saying they were "unable to accept their application" because they had "reached their maximum for walking unit."

The group initially took the rejection at face value, planned another activity.

But when the committee in charge of the parade declined to answer any questions about its decision, some wondered if this was just another form of discrimination..

Anoka Halloween organizers say they are given a strict three hour time limit by the city, and because of the large volume of marching bands in the parade this year, it needed to be taken into consideration when processing applications in order to meet the time limit.

Organizers say they turned away 28 applicants this year, but wouldn't say who would be in the parade and who would not. They would only say Justin's Gift had not been singled out.

Some resident wish the Anoka Halloween Organizers would have let Justin's Gift march, thinking it would have shed light on an issue that too often isn't talked about.

"There's been issues in this town as far as being gay or homosexual and stuff like that. There are issues in this town, obviously we know what the past history of the bullying up at the high school and the suicides and stuff like that," said Anoka resident Kate Roeger. "A lot of people don't like to talk about it but it needs to be talked about."

An online petition urging parade organizers to allow the group to march has received over 1,400 signatures.

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