Many residents of Jacksonville, NC are upset following a family-friendly holiday parade, or at least a parade that they had thought would be family-friendly.
As Dusty Maxwell, a local youth pastor, looked closer at the Studio 360 float, he noticed something he found disturbing: the float was decorated with pole dancing poles.
“As it got closer and I realized what it was and saw a lady performing on a pole in a provocative way, I had to turn the heads of my five-year-old and three-year-old to keep them from seeing it,” he said. “A family oriented parade is not somewhere that parents should have to worry about their children being exposed to what they were doing on that float.”
Studio 360 is a dance studio and and gym that offers fitness classes, including pole dancing classes. Pole dancing for fitness is estimated to burn between 320 and 485 calories per hour.
While representatives of Studio 360 do not believe that anyone was acting inappropriately on the float, many parade-goers felt otherwise. Viewers have taken to social media to criticize the studio, and some have called the performers rude names. There were children on the float, as well, and they were not excluded from name-calling.
“I wasn’t trying to offend by any means,” said Brianna Owens, head instructor and studio manager at Studio 360. “We are a family-friendly place. We knew the consequences. We knew the backlash. We were prepared for that.”
The entry forms for the parade require all applicants to disclose their organization’s name and contact information, as well as their float category (motor vehicle, walking, amateur float, etc.), whether there will be music, and whether the float wishes to be judged in a contest.
To meet the Holiday Parade Committee’s expectations, all floats must be holiday-themed. But to give further context, the organizers asked each applicant to write a brief description of their entry and a photo or drawing of the float. The description was include details about the number and ages of the float riders, the holiday colors, and other theme information.
Many people expressed shock that the Holiday Parade Committee at the Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the annual parade, let Studio 360 pass the application process. Maxwell hopes to make sure never to let floats like this partake in other family-friendly community events.
The chamber’s special events manager, Sabrina Thomas, could not be reached for comment.