Walter Mencken 7 p.m., Dec. 10
La Jolla likely to keep "Christmas" in parade name
Talk of name change surfaces, but movement does not appear strong enough
La Jolla has 40,000 people, and about 12,000 are Jewish, according to the San Diego Jewish Journal, using figures from the United Jewish Federation. Many other La Jolla residents belong to non-Christian faiths and assorted ethnic groups. But La Jolla still puts on a yearly parade called the Christmas Parade. Other cities, such as Encinitas, Ocean Beach, and Pacific Beach, put on a Holiday Parade. In 2005, several La Jollans wanted the Christmas Parade's name changed to something without reference to a specific religion, but the La Jolla Town Council voted down the proposal 11-10 in a secret ballot. The issue arose again in 2009/2010 but went nowhere. The subject is sensitive in La Jolla, which once was notorious for its anti-Semitism. (The presence of the University of California San Diego, UCSD, in the 1960s, ended those ugly days of bigotry.)
Now some La Jollans are discussing the parade name issue again. However, I could not find anyone who would come forward. In the 2009-2010 discussion, Deborah Hertz, a chair in modern Jewish studies at UCSD, and her husband Martin Bunzl, a philosophy professor at Rutgers, were outspoken in asking for a name change. However, Bunzl told me this week they are no longer interested in pursuing the matter.
The parade has set up its own 501(c)(3) organization, and is now completely separate from the town council. Ann Kerr Bache, who heads the parade, says informal polls have been taken regularly since 2005, and 89 percent to 92 percent of respondents say they do not want the name changed. Sponsors and donors do not want a name change. The official name -- although not used often -- is now La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival. People of all faiths are in the parade, and also watching it, she says. A Christian church has a living nativity featuring sheep and a Joseph and Mary, but last year, someone carried a Menorah.