Some residents of small-town Sardis, Miss. say they are very troubled at officials’ decision to knowingly crown a registered sex offender as “Grand Marshal” of their annual Christmas parade, according to a report from KAIT.
Carolyn Whaley, who owns The Eclectic Emporium on Main Street where the Christmas parade passed by on Tuesday, says “everyone in Sardis knows that Michael Saripkin, the Grand Marshal, is a sex offender,” KAIT reports.
“Everybody knows that; it’s a small town,” Whaley said. “It doesn’t bother me. He’s a very nice, friendly man. He has donated more money, helped the fire department, helped the police department [and] encouraged businesses to come here.”
Others in the town have a very different take on Sairpkin leading the parade.
“I didn’t like it,” said one man who did not want to be identified. “I don’t think it’s very proper for a sex offender to be a grand marshal of a parade and I just thought it was wrong.”
Records show Saripkin, a business man, was convicted for a third sex crime in 2013, in Mississippi, for “inappropriately touching a child as a person of trust,” KAIT reports.
Prior to his most recent Mississippi conviction, he was convicted in Tennessee of statutory rape in 1997 and with sexual battery in 1990.
The Sardis Chamber of Commerce is responsible for choosing the Grand Marshal and for organizing the annual event.
Alderman Michael Price said the city had nothing to do with the parade and it was done solely by the chamber.
“[The] city doesn’t authorize the Christmas parade,” Price said. “The chamber has been handling that for years. It wasn’t a city function.”