The Columbus Dispatch

Ball for 1st Black St. Pete mayor canceled over circus theme

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A ball planned for the first Black mayor of a major Florida city has been canceled amid concerns its circus theme was inappropri­ate in the once-segregated city.

The Junior League of St. Petersburg, which has thrown such balls since 2006, scrapped the 2022 event after Mayor-elect Ken Welch declined to attend, the Tampa Bay Times reported Thursday.

The theme was “Under the Big Top,” with promotiona­l materials featuring a circus tent and a black pelican with a top hat. Black community leaders pointed out that Blacks were once barred from attending the circus in majoritywh­ite St. Petersburg and that the theme was disrespect­ful.

“He has nothing to do with a circus, clowns, animals,” said the Rev. J.C. Pritchett, president of the Interdenom­inational Ministeria­l Alliance. “He’s a gentleman. A kind gentleman and a public servant.”

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