Organizers With The Seafair Torchlight Parade Issue An Apology - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Organizers With The Seafair Torchlight Parade Issue An Apology

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SPOKANE, Wash.- The Seafair Torchlight Parade has officially apologized for denying the parents of the "Fallen Hero Banner Project" the opportunity to walk in the parade.

The group, which honors men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice from Washington was told it "wasn't the right fit" for the parade. Well now, parade organizers have overturned their denial and are inviting the parents to walk with their board of directors in the parade on Saturday, July 26th.

We're told members of the "Fallen Hero Banner Project" will  "accept the invitation and will represent proudly."

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SPOKANE, Wash. - This year the Fallen Hero Banner project, which honors men and women from Washington who have died serving our country, applied to march in the Seafair Torchlight Parade in Seattle. However, the organization was denied by the parade selection committee via email saying, "the Fallen Hero Banner Project was not the right fit for the Torchlight Parade."

The decision to deny the group a chance to march in the parade has sparked controversy among many in the military community.

"Our military is a huge part of this country and I believe that everyone could take five or ten minutes out of their day to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, then get on with the fun and festivities," said Fallen Hero Banner Project Founder Kim Cole.

Kim started the Fallen Hero Banner Project to honor her son who passed away during his second tour in Iraq in 2007. Since then, the organization has grown and now honors more than 200 men and women all over Washington state who died fighting for our country.

As a way to remember those lost, the group makes a banner for each fallen soldier showing their picture, name, military rank, hometown, and the dates of their birth and death. The banners are a way to bring awareness to the community and show that there are families of the fallen that have sacrificed.

The group applied to march in the Seafair Torchlight Parade, but received this response via email from the parade selection committee:

"The banner images are a somber and sobering reminder to all of us here at home of what has been sacrificed. And to that point, the parade selection committee felt that the Fallen Hero Banner Project was not the right fit for the Torchlight Parade. Seafair and the Torchlight Parade celebrate summer, and our mission is to entertain spectators with high energy, vibrant colors and upbeat music."

Members of the group have marched in numerous parades across the state in past years, including the Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade in Spokane, and say no matter what parade they are in they receive a huge response.

"It's unbelievable and most people don't understand it until they experience it," Cole said. "Everyone gets on their feet and salutes and cheers, which is a huge thing for family members to get that sense of pride that I sacrificed a family member and you at least get it and appreciate it."

KHQ reached out to the Seafair Torchlight Parade Committee for comment on the decision and received this statement:

"Each year we receive hundreds of entry applications for the parade. There are many factors that go into the selection process - it's a televised event and we are limited to a two hour window. We are unfortunately not able to include all those who apply, we cap it at approx. 100 entries - and aim to have a mix of helium balloons, marching bands, floats, drill teams, etc. We give each entry careful consideration. Seafair has a strong connection to the military and supports these partnerships year round."

The committee also says they have included 15 military entries in the parade, ranging from the Marines, Coast Guard, to Washington National Guard, Army, Navy and beyond.

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