McMINNVILLE, Tenn. — In small towns, death and funerals still are sacred. So are veterans and community events. That makes McMinnville's predicament particularly tough.
Early Sunday morning, four Warren County High School seniors were killed coming back from a McDonald's run in McMinnville. It was just their car, just those four: Kaimen Collins, Christopher Frazier, Dominique Pinegar and Shanna Seiderer.
There have already been two funerals.
Saturday, there will be two more, both at 1 p.m. CST, and both at College Street locations across from one another in downtown McMinnville. Frazier and Pinegar will be laid to rest by their family and friends.
Their friends: an umbrella term for the 600 high school students who attended funeral services for Collins and Frazier earlier this week.
But Saturday afternoon also happens to be the day of the city's annual Christmas parade -- this year's theme, "I'll be home for Christmas." It's a homage to the 1940s and the World War II generation, and it falls on Dec. 7, exactly 72 years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
"We're losing our World War II veterans every day, and we need to remember the Greatest Generation," said Carla King, executive director of Main Street McMinnville, the parade's planning organization
But the parade happens to pass right by the funeral home and church where the two crash victims' funerals will be Saturday afternoon.
The funerals will begin at 1 p.m., and the parade originally was supposed to start at 2:30 p.m., but some McMinnville residents were afraid that scheduling would result in the parade -- and its sirens and crowd noise -- passing outside the services.
Teri Peck, a McMinnville resident, got together with a few others and started an online petition to have the parade postponed until the following Saturday.
"That day is for that child and these families that have to lay their children to rest," she said Thursday.
The city responded by delaying the start of the parade until 4 p.m.
King said, "We've planned it for a very long time," and a lot of people and sponsors have spent money to make the parade happen. To bring the community together, remember and honor vets together.
And "knock on wood," the weather will hold out, she said.
But knock on wood, Peck hopes the whole thing will be postponed, not just delayed until later in the day. "I'm hoping since we're in a close-knit community that they'll reschedule it," she said. "I really don't think [delaying until 4 p.m.] is any different."
Funeral directors and city officials said they believe the delay will be enough to clear things out before the parade passes through.
As of Thursday evening, that was the plan.
It finds the two sides caught in a scenario where both believe they're doing the right thing.
It's a stark collision of a small town's values. And it's not a terrible problem to have.
Contact staff writer Alex Green at email@example.com or 423-757-6731.
Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...