Please stop spreading false rumors

To the editor:

Since 1985, a motley group of my friends, relatives and, in recent years, a new generation including my children and their friends have marched in the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival parade under the name of the Gimps. I believe that we have always maintained the spirit of the Winter Carnival, striving to exorcise the mid-winter demons with music and revelry. It has always been an amazing amount of fun, and we look forward to it every year.

This year, less than 48 hours before the parade was to start, I received a call that the Gimps were banned from this year’s parade. When I inquired as to why, I was given vague reasons about naked cartwheels, which is preposterous. Some of us still came to Carnival anyhow (we had rooms that could not be canceled at that last date), dressed in our finery and handed out the candy that we’d already purchased. But despite our efforts to build a majestic float, we were not in the parade this year.

I am writing not to beg the powers that be to reinstate us into subsequent parades but to ask a few folks to stop besmirching our name. The naked cartwheel rumor seems to have spread widely. During all of our decades in the parade, none of us has ever exhibited nudity, done anything obscene, been arrested or given a ticket. The lame and laughable “proof” of public nudity stems from a Facebook photo from the 2017 parade that shows part of one of our participants’ rear end. Her skirt had risen up — accidentally, I might add — but she was wearing a bikini bottom and nothing was showing that one wouldn’t see at any beach, summer or winter. Arbitrarily imposed morality does not equate with either the law or good taste. I’ve seen this photo, and only a Puritan or Islamic extremist would be offended. The Gimps will not don burkas. Please don’t resort to body shaming to support your banning of our group.

The Gimps will continue to attend the Winter Carnival, even if we can’t be in the parade. We are law-abiding, fun-loving citizens, and we will not allow small-minded bigotry to rain on our parade.

By the way, I made a stunning Snow White.

Cordially,

Rich Merritt

Albany, but raised in beautiful Saranac Lake

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