While Macy's prides itself on hosting an annual Thanksgiving Day parade "without judgment, endorsement or agenda," this year's organizers are finding it hard to completely shield its celebration from controversy.
Earlier this week, South Dakota ranchers raised a fit over the decision by Macy's to have noted animal activist Joan Jett and her band represent the state's float in the parade. Jett eventually took the high road and switched floats - but not before PETA jumped on the ranchers' outcry and used it to their advantage. Now, Alec Baldwin is publicly appealing to Macy's CEO Terry J. Lundgren in an effort to get SeaWorld kicked out of the parade.
"As New Yorkers and new parents, we were disappointed to learn that SeaWorld might appear in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," writes Baldwin, on behalf of PETA. "Like most parents, we hope our child learns from the work of previous generations to minimize human and animal suffering. Thanks to the documentary "Blackfish", which has drawn millions of viewers since it debuted on CNN last month, the public knows that SeaWorld is a cruel prison for whales."
A released concept of SeaWorld's "Sea of Surprises" float shows whales and penguins frolicking in the wild; a visual that animal activists claim is damage control in the wake of "Blackfish."
“Our newest float with SeaWorld is being included in the 2013 Parade line-up to illustrate the wonder of marine life in a manner that inspires millions to learn more about our oceans,” said a Macy’s spokesman in October. “While we understand that there may be differing views about this float, no other message or endorsement is intended.”
So far, Macy's isn't budging - falling back on its stance of simple entertainment.
“While it is understandable that such a widely embraced event can sometimes feature elements or performances that some people may find disagreeable, Macy's intention is to provide a range of entertaining elements without judgement, endorsement, or agenda,” said Orlando Veras, spokesman for Macy’s. “The Parade has never taken on, promoted or otherwise engaged in social commentary, political debate, or other forms of advocacy, no matter how worthy.”
The Macy's Thanksgiving event isn't the only parade receiving PETA's attention. Organizers for the popular Rose Parade in Pasadena,CA. have also been hit with a barrage of protests over SeaWorld's participation in that event as well. Once again, the theme park is being charged with hypocrisy in light of a float featuring animals at play in the wild.
“(The float) bears no resemblance whatsoever to an orca’s life of severe confinement at SeaWorld, where these magnificent animals are kept restricted to tiny concrete tanks, breaking their teeth on the underwater bars, and are forced to perform cheap, circus-style tricks,” the organization said in a statement.
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