By Duke Carter, WSLS
Published: December 13, 2015, 10:08 am

scv Christmas parade 2015

ROANOKE, VA (WSLS10) – As the Star City’s 33rd annual Christmas parade kicked off Friday evening some were celebrating the holidays, others took the opportunity to honor their ancestors.

It’s a topic that started making headlines back in the summer, following what police are calling a racially-charged mass shooting at a Charleston church, where nine people were killed.

While on the parade route, Confederate flag supporters were met with cheers and others associated with the NAACP stood in silence.

They believe the flag has no place in a Christmas parade.

Thousands lined the streets of downtown Roanoke for the annual Dickens of Christmas parade – for some, it’s tradition.

“I come to bring the grandkids out,” Denise Tucker, a Roanoke resident said.

For others, this was an opportunity to show their heritage.

“We’re not here to hurt anybody, or anybody’s feelings we’re just trying to honor our ancestors,” Mark Craig, with the Sons of Confederate Veterans said.

He said the organization has been in the parade for years and is surprised members in the NAACP protested.

Craig said even the former president had a strong rapport with their group.

“There was Rev. Green, he was the president on the Roanoke chapter of the NAACP, he used to come to SCV meetings, got to know us, became real good friends,” Craig said.

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Craig mentioned his goal is to get the community to understand the origins of the flag.

“I’d love to have a good rapport and everybody get along,” Craig said.

The president of the NAACP said there was a rapport with the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“I used to dialogue with the Sons of Confederate Veterans when Red Barber was the president,” Brenda Hale, the president of the Roanoke Chapter of the NAACP said.

Hale and supporters stood in silence as the Sons of Confederate Veterans walked during the parade.

Hale said the flag represents hate and feel the Christmas parade is not the time nor place to display the flag.

“We want compromise, we want communication and we have to have dialogue about racism, and racism is alive and well in our community,” Hale said.