Tag Archives: tradition

Dog named ‘Pig’ dances ballet in ‘Mutt-cracker’

Even casual dance fans have heard of the Christmastime classic “The Nutcracker,” but what about “The Mutt-cracker” ballet?

An Alabama humane society fundraiser features a misshapen little mutt named “Pig” as the pirouetting pet of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The show has been performed by the Birmingham Ballet for the past five years.

This year’s version was staged to a near sellout crowd at the city’s main concert hall.

During the show, a black Great Dane cavorted with Drosselmeyer, who presented his niece Clara with a magical Nutcracker and a spaniel trotted out on stage with cast members.

A pack of pugs did what pugs normally do: They sat and snorted.

Pig, outfitted in a pink tutu, was a featured performer, dancing alone with the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Born with a condition called short-spine syndrome, the 3-year-old dog hops somewhat like a frog to stand up and has hunched shoulders that make her gait appear somewhat gorilla-like.

Owner Kim Dillenbeck said being around so many people and dogs in the theater was unnerving for Pig, whose Facebook page has more than 100,000 followers.

“She is so easily startled because she can’t move her head at all; her head is fused at her shoulders,” Dillenbeck said. “So for her to come to a place that has lots of noise and stuff is very difficult.”

But Pig was a trouper, especially when given an incentive: During a rehearsal, ballerina Katherine Free held a treat up in the air to get her to twirl about at the end of a leash.

Free marveled at Pig and the 28 other dogs cast for the show. Only a few of the animals were trained performers, and many were rescues.

“They give so much to the stage and project to the audience more than you might think, and it’s amazing to see them grow from even their rehearsals to being on the stage,” Free said.

Spain’s top court overturns local ban on bullfighting

Spain’s top court overruled a local ban against bullfighting in the powerful northeastern region of Catalonia, saying it violated a national law protecting the much-disputed spectacle.

The Constitutional Court ruled that Catalan authorities generally could regulate such public spectacles, and even outlaw them, but in this case the national parliament’s ruling that bullfighting is part of Spain’s heritage must prevail.

Catalonia banned bullfighting in 2010. The decision was part of the growing movement against bullfighting but it was also seen as another step in the Catalan government’s push to break away from Spain.

The ban had little practical effect as Catalonia had only one functioning bullring — in its capital, Barcelona — but neither is the court decision likely to greatly change things.

“There’ll be no bullfights in Catalonia regardless of what the Constitutional Court says,” Catalan Land Minister Josep Rulls said.

The World Animal Protection group described the decision as “outrageous,” adding that “cultural heritage does not justify an activity that relies on animal torture and indefensible levels of suffering.”

But the Fighting Bull Foundation of breeders, matadors, ring workers, aficionados and event organizers welcomed the news, warning that attempts to prevent bullfights in Catalonia would now be illegal.

Catalonia’s last bullfight was in 2011 before the region’s ban took effect.

The court ruling followed a challenge to the ban by the conservative Popular Party headed by acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Catalonia said it banned bullfighting to protect the animals but it continues to allow popular events featuring the chasing and taunting of bulls with flaming balls of wax or fireworks affixed to their horns.

Bullfighting and bull-related events in summer festivals remain immensely popular throughout Spain although animal rights groups have gained some ground in their campaigns.

Catalonia, with a population of 7.5 million, is a wealthy region with its own language and a large degree of self-rule. Its current government is pushing to hold an independence referendum and secede from Spain in 2017. Spain has said it will not allow either.

Party animals: Cats and dogs join the ugly sweater Christmas tradition

Ugly sweaters aren’t just a Christmas tradition for people. Cats, dogs and even guinea pigs are joining the party.

Zigzilla “Ziggy” and Chopper “Lambchop” got sweaters from PetSmart this year so they’ll be ready when they get an invite to their first ugly sweater party, said the cats’ owner Catie Savage of New York City.

“My non-cat lady friends definitely think I am crazy,” said Savage, who handles her cats’ Instagram site (@life_of_ziggy), with 43,000 followers. She says she enjoys the sweaters more than the cats do, “which makes it even funnier to me.”

“PetSmart’s ugly sweaters for dogs and cats are among our top five best-selling holiday apparel items so far this season,” said Eran Cohen, chief customer experience officer for the pet store. “We even have ugly sweaters for guinea pigs.”

Television ushered the ugly sweater in and out in the 1980s. Around the turn of the century it enjoyed a revival, starting with adults, who had parties just to celebrate the ugliness. Kids got in on the act and now pets have nosed their way in, giving owners laughs and plenty to photograph.

Ugly sweater dog events across the country this month included an ugly sweater contest for dogs at a park in Anaheim, California; a dog-friendly ugly sweater 5K run and walk in National Harbor, Maryland; and separate ugly sweater parties for big and little dogs hosted by Chicago Party Animals, one of the nation’s largest canine clubs with 2,000 members.

You can find ready-made ugly sweaters everywhere from 99 cent stores to high-end stores, but they’re an especially hot item at thrift stores — though presumably most shoppers are buying them for people, not pets.

“Our stores collect holiday sweaters year-round,” said Marla Eby, marketing and community relations director for Goodwill Southern California. “Then we decorate them, adding ribbons, bows, and embellishments until they are at their gaudy best.”

“Customers snap up the sweaters as soon as we bring them out on the floor,” said vice president of Retail Operations Craig Stone. “They are so popular we can’t keep them in stock.”

Aimee Beltran of Virginia Beach, Virginia, has turned her blog (http://irresistiblepets.net) into an ugly sweater classroom twice, using her 6-year-old Chihuahua Chuy as a model for the finished product.

Her advice to anyone making a pet sweater: “Have fun with it. Don’t take it too seriously. Make it your own and your style. There is no right or wrong way to do it.”

An ugly sweater has to celebrate Christmas. The bolder the colors, the brighter and the more stuff on it, the better — bring on the bows, snowmen, Santas, trees, buttons, stars, sequins, rickrack, felt, glitter and cotton. Sleeves can be mismatched, misshapen or missing.

But most pets — including Savage’s cats — would probably like to ditch the sweaters.

“Dog vision is different than human vision and because patterns are not particularly useful to their vision, dogs probably could care less what their sweater looks like,” said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and a professor at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Most dogs and cats don’t like wearing sweaters unless they got used to being dressed young. “Sometimes the putting on or taking off can cause static electricity, which would make the dog even more anxious the next time,” Beaver said.

If a dog has grown up wearing clothes or if a dog is small and short-haired and it is cold, a sweater will be OK, but wearing one for a contest “is of no consequence to the dog, which will be focused on the scents around it and not on the real appearance of other dogs,” Beaver said.

Owners love to have fun with their pets, but “most of this is a people thing,” Beaver said.

‘New Hanji’ joins modern craft with Korean tradition

“Paper changed everything,” notes Chelsea Holton, co-curator of New Hanji: A Korean Paper Tradition Re-Imagined,the latest exhibition at Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum. The invention of paper around the year 100 A.D. in China opened a new world for documentation, as well as for art. 

Hanji art was originally developed in Korea, before spreading to other civilizations. The handmade hanji paper is produced from the inner bark of mulberry trees and is renowned for its durability. Hanji can be treated like regular drawing paper, but its versatility also allows for it to be used in the production of textiles and ornaments, molded as decorations for vessels or carved and attached to furniture.

Taking this ancient material as a starting point, five artists from Milwaukee and four from Korea incorporate it into contemporary art. Holton says hanji is enjoying something of a renaissance as it is adopted in the West and revived in its native land. 

One artist, co-curator Rina Yoon, is the origin point for New Hanji, Holton says. “(Yoon) had taken a couple of trips back to Korea in the last five years or so, and she took a group of students to Korea in 2012 along with all of the Milwaukee artists in the exhibition. They studied the techniques and all started to incorporate hanji. Rina organized an exhibition in 2013 that went really well — and this seemed like a valuable thing for Milwaukee.”

That prior showing of these pieces occurred in South Korea at the Jeonju Hanji Festival. At Villa Terrace, a historic venue with a similar attentiveness to both present and past, the show represents a melding of traditional and current artistic trends. 

The Milwaukee-based artists, to varying degrees, have used paper mediums previously in their work. They found that having learned of this material, they were each using it in new work. Viewers also will see that there are identifiable approaches that connect their past endeavors with this medium. 

Jessica Meuninck-Ganger has for a long time used a combination of drawing and video in her installations. In “Trace,” footage of Milwaukee neighborhoods passes by in ephemeral light behind small, sculptural buildings made of hanji. It is meant to evoke thoughts of the transitory nature of spaces. An adage about hanji proclaims that it lasts for 1,000 years. Could the same ever be said about today’s built environments? The sense of the present is simultaneously fragile and nostalgic.

Paper’s three-dimensional possibilities are explored by Christiane Grauert’s Block series. Tall and angular, her skyscraper-like forms are a translation of Hong Kong architecture. The carved spaces of the windows are done with a process learned from Haemija Kim, a master of the technique whose work is featured in the exhibition. 

Master Kim, as she is known, was drawn into the traditions of hanji through an interest in handmade paper objects such as sewing boxes. For her study of these and her endeavors in their recreation, she was given the Presidential Award of Excellence by the South Korean government in 2009. 

In the world of fashion, Korean artist Yang Bae Jeon has become interested in the study of traditional garments associated with funerary practices. In the interests of ecological and other concerns, Jeon’s work in the making of hanji burial shrouds has been influential and an example is on display here. 

Yoon also synthesizes the body and methods of artistic construction in her work. She uses jiseung, a process of paper coiling in large wall pieces that produce cloud-like forms in brilliant white. They originate as pieces molded from her body, transformed into dramatic billows of round and sharply pierced shapes in “Earth Between In and Yeon.”

One Buddhist concept Yoon frequently comes back to in her work is inyeon. She says, “The body returns to the earth and emerges from it. The earth and the body are separate and one at the same time.” 

In her capacity as an art historian and writer, Holton traveled to Korea with the artists as well as students in order to produce scholarly research for this project. One of the strengths of this exhibition is that curatorial approach, which introduces visitors to the context and process of this traditional craft. It wraps multifaceted artistic endeavors together, connected through knowledge of the past and the fibers of hanji which reach far beyond their point of cultural origin.

On Display

New Hanji: A Korean Paper Tradition Re-Imagined continues through Jan. 3 at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, 2220 N. Terrace Ave. Visit
villaterracemuseum.org for more details.

‘Fear 12’ 

Art Bar, 722 E. Burleigh St. 

Through Nov. 2 

Ever since its opening, Art Bar has held this yearly exhibition where artists present visual images of all things sinister and strange. This year’s display ranges from sci-fi fantasy digital art to prints, paintings and assemblages delving into the dark corners of the psyche.

2015 Dia de los Muertos Exhibition 

Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, 

839 S. Fifth St.

Through Nov. 21 

For 23 years, WPCA has held an annual exhibition featuring the traditional ofrendas, or altars, which commemorate deceased loved ones at this time of year. The ofrendas are made by members and community groups, each a distinct portrait to honor and revive the memory of those who have passed on. 

Day of the Dead Ofrendas 

Latino Arts Gallery, 1028 S. Ninth St. 

Oct. 28 – Nov. 20

Located inside the United Community Center, the Latino Arts Gallery will host a display of ofrendas, honoring the traditions of the community. An opening reception will be held on Nov. 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. 

Get schooled on UW-Madison traditions

Students are returning to campus and football fans are returning to bleachers. University of Wisconsin-Madison classes begin Sept. 2 and the first home game is Sept. 12.

If a great university has great traditions, then UW-Madison must be great, indeed. And you’d better know the traditions, whether attending the university or enjoying a Badger game.

After all, “Without an identifiable tradition, a university could become an emberless place, perhaps a soulless battleground,” wrote Robert Gard, the late folklorist and UW historian.

Incidentally, the first home game will be against Miami University, of Oxford, Ohio. Don’t worry, that’s not a tradition. But these are:

Bucky Badger — The tradition most associated with UW-Madison is actually one of its most recent. The Bucky we know today was designed in 1940 by Art Evans, a California commercial artist. Before that, a live badger sometimes served as mascot. Believe it or not, so did Paul Bunyan.

Cheerleaders — Today they build pyramids and catch each other in basket tosses, but cheerleading started as only that — cheering. The first cheerleader, Johnny Campbell, led the first cheer on Nov. 2, 1898, at a University of Minnesota football game. It spread to the UW soon afterward. For decades, only men were allowed. The scales tipped in women’s favor during the 1920s, because so few other athletic activities were open to them. 

Homecoming — No, it hasn’t been around forever. The first UW homecoming was in 1911. It included speeches and, during halftime, an alumni football game. The UW had been playing intercollegiate football for only 22 years. In 1912, and at every homecoming game since, law school seniors have charged the southern goalpost, where they try to throw their canes up and over. Students making the catch, tradition goes, will win their first cases. This year’s homecoming game, Oct. 17, will be played against Purdue.

The Fifth Quarter — If you leave early, you’ll miss what some fans think is the best part of the game. In the 1970s, Madison’s football team wasn’t exactly strong. To boost morale, the marching band added a post-game performance. It built and built, becoming wilder and wilder, with stunts and choreography. By the time the press had dubbed it the Fifth Quarter, it was an institution. 

The Band — The UW School of Music actually hosts several bands, but it’s the marching band fans know best. It was formed during the 1885–86 school year. It performed with the University Military Battalion, at prom and at the “Joint Debate of the University.” In 1894 the band began playing at the newfangled football games sweeping the country. Today Mike Leckrone, director of bands, marches more than 300 students and has become a tradition himself, enjoying iconic status. He joined the UW in 1969, and developed the group’s distinctive pointed-foot marching style, as well as designing its uniforms. As for what the band plays:

“Varsity” — The somber song that brings a lump to alumni throats was originally a hymn written by Charles Gounod (1818–1893), a French composer primarily known for opera. He also wrote the well-known setting for “Ave Maria.” In 1908, UW music instructor Henry Dyke Sleeper wrote new words and a new arrangement for what he named “Varsity Toast.” The arm-wave at its close was added in 1934 by band director Ray Dvorak.

“If You Want to Be a Badger” — Like “Varsity,” it originally had another life. In 1919, UW professor Julian Olson wrote the lyrics for “The Badger Ballad.” Band director Charles Mills composed a peppy melody for the song, which wasn’t intended for students or sports, but for an alumni dinner.

“You’ve Said It All” — Older Milwaukee readers will recall when the city was home not only to Miller but to Schlitz, Pabst and Blatz breweries — and the intense rivalry with Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser, brewed in St. Louis. So it’s the peak of irony that Bud’s 1970 advertising jingle was made into the UW’s favorite brag: “When you’ve said Wi-scon-sin, you’ve said it all!” Steve Karmen wrote the original.

“On, Wisconsin!” — If it doesn’t have the comma and exclamation point, it’s not the song’s actual title. It was written in 1909 by W.T. Purdy and Carl Beck for a University of Minnesota song competition. They gave it to the UW, instead. It’s also our official state song. After singing it at the game, why not head to:

The Union Terrace — The students’ Memorial Union was completed in 1928. Campus supervising architect Arthur Peabody wanted it to resemble “a Venetian pleasure palace,” but he left its most pleasing feature to his daughter, Charlotte. A budding landscape architect, she designed the terrace, “the living room of the university,” on the shores of Lake Mendota.

Pabst Brewing returning to Milwaukee with new brewery

Pabst Brewing Co. says it is coming home to open a new brewery and restaurant next year on the site of its original Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee.

The Los Angeles-based beer company said it plans to sign a multiyear lease on a building within the former Pabst brewery complex near downtown Milwaukee and expects to open to the public in summer 2016.

Pabst traces its roots to 1844 in Milwaukee, but closed its brewery there nearly 20 years ago. The company’s brands include its flagship Pabst Blue Ribbon as well as Lone Star, Rainier, Ballantine IPA, Schlitz, Old Style, Stroh’s and Old Milwaukee.

The new brewery would make many of Pabst’s pre-Prohibition brands as well as new craft beers inspired by recipes from the company’s archives. The brewery will include a tasting room, beer garden and a restaurant and bar.

“The launch of this brewery in Pabst’s original home represents a long-awaited return to our roots,” current owner and CEO Eugene Kashper said in a statement.

Kashper and his partners bought Pabst in November. The previous owners moved the company’s offices from suburban Chicago to Los Angeles after buying Pabst in 2010.

The former Pabst complex in Milwaukee has been renovated to include the Brew House Inn & Suites, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Public Health, apartments and other developments. The new brewery and tasting room will open in a former church that was later used as a Pabst employee training and conference center, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Presbyterian Church (USA) expands marriage definition

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has expanded its definition of marriage to include a “commitment between two people,” recognizing gay marriage as Christian in the church constitution after decades of debate over same-sex relationships.

The redefinition was endorsed last year by the church General Assembly, or top legislative body, but required approval from a majority of the Louisville, Kentucky-based denomination’s 171 regional districts, or presbyteries. The critical 86th “yes” vote came on March 17 from the Presbytery of the Palisades in New Jersey.

“So many families headed by LGBTQ couples have been waiting for decades to enter this space created for their families within their church communities,” said the Rev. Robin White, a leader of More Light Presbyterians, which advocates for gay acceptance.

After all regional bodies finish voting and top Presbyterian leaders officially accept the results, the change will take effect June 21. The denomination has nearly 1.8 million members and about 10,000 congregations and is now the largest Protestant group to authorize gay weddings churchwide.

Last year, Presbyterians allowed ministers to preside at gay weddings if local church leaders approved in the states where same-sex unions were legally recognized. The new wording for the church Book of Order extends that authorization to every congregation and reads, “Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives.”

The amendment includes a provision that no clergy would be compelled to preside at a gay marriage or host such a ceremony on church property. So far, 41 presbyteries have rejected the redefinition and the vote in one presbytery was tied, according to a tally by the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, which advocates for gays in the church and also works to keep Presbyterians united despite theological differences.

In statements Tuesday, church officers urged “mutual forbearance” amid disagreements over the amendment. “We hope that such `up/down’ voting does not mark the end, but the continuation of our desire to live in community,” the two top General Assembly officials said.

Between 2011, when the Presbyterians authorized gay ordination, and 2013, the latest year for which figures are available, 428 of the denomination’s churches left for more conservative denominations or dissolved, though some theological conservatives have remained as they decide how to move forward. The losses helped pave the way for approval of gay marriage, since many opponents had left the church.

Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the conservative Presbyterian Lay Committee, said the new definition was a repudiation of the Bible and approved “what God does not bless.” She urged Presbyterians to protest by redirecting donations away from the national church until the original marriage definition is restored.

The Rev. Paul Detterman, national director of The Fellowship Community, a network of conservative Presbyterian churches that have stayed with the denomination, said his organization will “remain faithfully engaged in conversation” with those of different views in the church. He said the Fellowship’s opposition to the amendment is not intended to be anti-gay but aims to uphold the traditional Bible view of marriage.

Although several Protestant denominations have taken significant steps toward recognizing same-sex relationships, only one other major Christian group has endorsed gay marriage churchwide.

In 2005, the 1.1 million-member United Church of Christ became the first major Protestant denomination to back same-sex marriage, urging its individual congregations to develop wedding policies that don’t discriminate against couples because of gender.

The Episcopal Church, which blazed a trail in 2003 by electing the first openly gay Anglican bishop, Gene Robinson, does not have a formal position on gay marriage, but allows bishops to decide whether their priests can officiate at the ceremonies. Episcopalians will take up gay marriage at a national meeting in June.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which eliminated barriers to gay ordination in 2009, takes a similar approach, allowing some discretion by clergy and congregations to officiate at same-sex ceremonies without formally recognizing same-sex marriage as a denomination.

The United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., bars “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from ordination and prohibits gay weddings. Many Methodist clergy have been performing gay marriages as a protest of church policy.

The Rev. Brian Ellison, executive director of Covenant Network of Presbyterians, said he recognized there will be disagreement about the new marriage definition.

“We’re very committed to helping the church continue working through this issue,” he said.

After protest, Vatican floats balloons instead of releases doves

Dove lovers, rejoice.

Balloons, not doves, were released as a gesture of peace on Jan. 25 in St. Peter’s Square, a year after an attack by a seagull and a crow on the symbolic birds sparked protests by animal rights groups.

For many years children, flanking the pope at a window of the papal studio overlooking the square, have released a pair of doves on the last Sunday in January.

The Catholic Church traditionally dedicates January to peace themes.

Last year, the feel-good practice became a public relations disaster. After the children with Pope Francis tossed a pair of doves from the window, first a seagull and then a crow swept down and attacked the doves. Their ultimate fate was unknown.

Mormons push their church to be more accepting of gay members

Court decisions this week paving the way for same-sex marriage to become legal in dozens of states, including Mormon strongholds like Utah, Idaho and Nevada, have emboldened a growing group of Latter-day Saints who are pushing the conservative church to become more accepting of gay members.

The church’s stance toward gays has softened considerably since it was one of the leading forces behind California’s ban on gay marriage in 2008, but high-ranking leaders have reiterated time and again the faith’s opposition to same-sex unions.

Some Mormons hope to change that, or at least work to make congregations more welcoming places for gays and lesbians.

Erika Munson, co-founder of a group that is neutral on gay marriage but is trying to work within church doctrine and policy to make congregations more accepting of gays, said she worries about losing younger Mormons because of the church’s stance. One of her five children, an adult son, has chosen to not to practice Mormonism, in part because of the way LGBT people are treated at churches.

“People under 30 all know somebody who has come out. They are not the other, they are not scary. They understand that they are just like them,” said Munson, whose group Mormons Building Bridges stays neutral on gay marriage because they want to work within church doctrine. “So, that’s really hard to reconcile with a Christian church where we follow the teachings of Jesus.”

Last week — after the U.S. Supreme Court unexpectedly rejected appeals by Utah and four other states trying to protect their same-sex marriage bans — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement that the decision will have no effect on church doctrine or practices, while acknowledging that “as far as the civil law is concerned, the courts have spoken.”

Still, church leaders are not ready to accept gay unions. Dallin H. Oaks, one of the church’s highest-ranking leaders, told a worldwide audience last week at a Mormon conference in Salt Lake City that legalizing same-sex marriage is among the world values threatening Mormon beliefs.

Yet he also urged members to be gracious toward those who believe differently in what many gay advocates in the church saw as the latest example of the softer tone leaders are taking.

The majority of Mormons will stand behind church teachings on the topic, said Scott Gordon, president of a volunteer organization that supports the church.

That doesn’t mean they are bigots or hatemongers, though, as they are sometimes labeled, he said.

The reality is that most Mormons have gay relatives or friends they love, but they also agree with the religion’s opposition to gay marriage rooted in a deeply-held belief that families are the center of life and for eternity, and that a family led by a man and a woman is best for children, he said.

“Marriage is not just about love. Yes, love is a large component of it, but marriage is about having families and raising children and doing those things that will help the children grow into adulthood,” said Gordon, of FairMormon. “The fundamental teachings of the church are never going to change on this. We’ll just adapt and move on.”

The history of the church suggests Mormons could alter their views, although no one is expecting doctrinal change anytime soon.

Mormons believe in ongoing revelations from God, which has led to fundamental changes. In 1978, Mormon church leaders lifted the ban on blacks in the priesthood. In 1890, the church president at the time received a revelation to end the practice of polygamous marriages that were part of the first 60 years of the church.

“They have change built into their cosmos,” said Sarah Barringer Gordon, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “Churches exist in societies as well and that can’t help but effect how they think.”

Spencer W. Clark said his beliefs began shifting when he became friends with gay and lesbian classmates in high school and college, and he eventually became the leader of a group of faithful Mormons that supports gay marriage.

He, Munson and others hope that same-sex couples will become visible, active members of their communities, allowing more Mormons to get to know and appreciate families led by gay and lesbian couples. Even if Latter-day Saints don’t accept gay marriage right away, that could help break down barriers, Clark said.

“This helps people be more comfortable with it because it’s no longer the big, scary unknown,” said Clark, executive director of Mormons for Equality, who lives in Washington D.C. with his wife and three children. “They’ll find out this isn’t the doomsday scenario.”

Deal could allow gays in Boston St. Pat’s parade but not with Pride signs

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston is easing its two-decade ban on gay organizations under a deal to allow them to march in an event that once went to the Supreme Court to keep gays out, a marriage equality group said recently.

MassEquality Executive Director Kara Coredini said a group of gay military veterans can march under its banner as part of a tentative deal with parade organizers brokered by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.

Marchers from the gay-rights group would not, however, be allowed to wear clothing or hold signs that refer to sexual orientation, Coredini said.

Negotiators will work out final details in the coming week, she said.

“But, we are encouraged this conversation is happening. That is a significant step forward,” Coredini told The Associated Press.

Although there are still particulars to hammer out, Coredini said the development is a big deal for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“The LGBT community faces many challenges more significant than this parade, but the parade has been historically been the symbol of those challenges that we face,” Coredini said. “It’s been 20 years since openly LGBT people have been able to march in this parade.”

The Boston parade, sponsored by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, has had a long and torturous history on the question of whether gay groups can march.

State courts forced the sponsors to allow the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston to march in the parade in 1992 and 1993. In 1994, the sponsors canceled the parade rather than allow the group to participate.

In 1995, the sponsors made participation by invitation only and said the parade would commemorate the role of traditional families in Irish history and protest the earlier court rulings. But several months later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Massachusetts courts had previously violated the parade sponsors’ First Amendment rights when they forced them to allow the gay group to participate.

Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants, had threatened to boycott the city’s annual parade unless gay groups are allowed to march. He told The Boston Globe the agreement is a breakthrough.

A spokeswoman for Walsh said the mayor and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch met parade organizers on the weekend.

“It was a very positive meeting, and they remain optimistic that a solution can be reached that will work for all parties involved,” spokeswoman Kate Norton said.

A message left for a parade organizer was not immediately returned.

Walsh’s predecessor, Mayor Tom Menino, boycotted the parade after the Supreme Court ruling.

The parade has traditionally honored Irish-Americans and also celebrates “Evacuation Day,” George Washington’s victory that forced British troops out of Boston in 1776.