USA Ms. Heels for Wheels Wants to be Part of Parade

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Tae McKenzie wants to participate in the Novant Thanksgiving Day Parade. She battles epilepsy, uses a wheelchair, and was crowned USA Ms. Heels for Wheels in October 2015.

McKenzie says parade organizers will not allow her to participate in the parade. She says they’ve told her they don’t “have pageant participants.” The parade does include Miss North Carolina and Miss South Carolina.

McKenzie provided WCCB with several email exchanges with parade organizers, Charlotte Center City Partners.

On November 7, 2015, one of McKenzie’s representatives emailed parade organizers, asking if McKenzie could participate.

On November 9, 2015, a parade organizer replied: “Interest in taking part in the Parade is high, and unfortunately, space is very limited. Our goal is to provide an entertaining experience for those who watch on the streets of Uptown Charlotte and those who watch at home. With that in mind, we must keep the parade under two hours…and limiting the number of units in the parade. We have made the difficult decision to limit pageant participation to Miss North Carolina and Miss South Carolina in the Miss America pageant.”

On November 13, 2015, McKenzie’s representative responded, writing, “How do we go about getting this young lady in the parade next and is that doable?”

On the same day, the parade organizer replied: “You will need to fill out an application for a specialty unit which you can find on our website in early 2016. As we mentioned below, we do not generally have pageant participants except for Miss NC and Miss SC in the parade.”

On March 28, 2016, McKenzie’s representative wrote to the parade organizers, “…we just wanted to get an update on the application that we send (sic) in last week for USA Ms. Heels for Wheels…”

On the same day, the parade organizer replied: “The parade committee has received your application. Please note, application decisions will be made after June 3rd, and those who have been accepted will received notification no later than July 22, 2016.”

On June 28, 2016, McKenzie’s representative emailed and asked for an update on the application. A different parade organizer responded, saying, “Please advise the name of your organization so that I can confirm that we have an application on file.”

On the same day, the parade organizer wrote again, saying, “I just wanted to let you know I have found the application…Our parade committee will be reviewing applications soon. We will let know once all decisions have been made.”

On August 25, 2016, another parade organizer wrote to McKenzie’s representative, saying, “While we found USA Ms. Heels for Wheels extremely inspiring and moving, the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade unfortunately does not accept pageant entries.”

McKenzie is petitioning Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, NC Representative George Graham and Novant, to allow her to participate in the parade. You can view the petition here.