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July 8, 2008

Gloucester: Outrage, shock at Beverly Farms parade

Three floats mocking the surge in pregnancies at Gloucester High School in a Beverly Independence Day parade are drawing outrage from city residents and officials concerned the displays will be viewed as an attack on Gloucester and cause divisions between the two communities.

The floats, featured in the traditionally controversial, politically incorrect Beverly Farms Horribles Parade on Friday, included signs attributing promiscuity among GHS students as the cause for a fourfold increase in pregnancies this year.

Mayor Carolyn Kirk, who blasted the parade over the weekend, said yesterday she had stopped short of calling for an apology from Beverly officials or the parade's organizing committee to avoid triggering class warfare between largely working-class Gloucester and affluent Beverly Farms.

"I am not going to get into a dispute with a neighboring community that could start a class war," Kirk said. "I don't want to escalate it or trigger any further dispute."

In a prepared statement on the issue released yesterday, Kirk reaffirmed her displeasure with the floats and handling of the parade, but indicated that the city would try to quickly move on.

"The city of Gloucester is deeply offended by certain individuals trivializing and making a mockery of teenage pregnancy, which unfortunately is a national problem that we as a society must confront," the statement said. "Our focus in Gloucester is on addressing this issue and beginning a constructive and useful dialogue that will benefit our community. I am confident that Gloucester will rise to the challenge."

Video of the parade was posted online at the Web site youtube.com and images of one of the floats, on which was mounted an oversized phallus that sprayed water into the crowd, quickly circulated among residents.

"It was disgusting to do that with so many little kids around," said Dan Brown, 21, of Liberty Street. "I don't know why they would go that far. Maybe they do have something against us."

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