Friendswood July 4th parade Grand Marshal steps down after receiving threats online

Courtney Carpenter Image
Friday, June 24, 2022
What's behind threats against Friendswood parade grand marshal?
She's an Iraq war veteran, a former Houston Dash player, and serves on a key anti-violence board. But once she was announced as Friendswood's Fourth of July parade grand marshal, many weren't happy.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The annual Friendswood July 4th celebration has been happening for nearly 130 years.

The 2022 celebration will be different, though. There will be no parade Grand Marshal, as Haley Carter, the former Marine and professional soccer player, stepped down from the role after receiving terrifying threats.

Ashley McLaughlin has lived in Friendswood all her life and says the 4th of July parade is a big deal.

"The whole street is lined up. The parade is incredible," said McLaughlin.

This year, there's already fireworks in the Facebook comments where the City of Friendswood Parks and Recreation announced Carter would serve as the parade's Grand Marshal. Carter is a former U.S. Marine Officer who was deployed twice during Operation Iraqi Freedom and played for the Houston Dash for three seasons.

In September 2021, ABC13 reported Carter was essential in the evacuation of the senior members of the Afghanistan Women's National Soccer team and their families.

SEE HERE: Former Houston Dash goalie Haley Carter helps Afghan women's soccer team escape Kabul

McLaughlin and many others in the Facebook comments were glad to see Carter honored as Grand Marshal.

"I loved seeing a younger female leading the parade this year. Obviously, the parade is a big deal in this town, so I was excited to see that and excited to see our alumni's come back and participate in these big community events," said McLaughlin.

However, some people didn't feel the same way. One person commented in part that she was "an abhorrent choice."

People are taking issue with a post on Carter's personal Facebook page showing her young son about to go to a drag show. Another commenter suggests that she is anti-second amendment as she is an outspoken advocate on gun reform and serves on Mayor Sylvester Turner's Commission against gun violence.

"It's unfortunate that we don't care more about getting along than we do about which side of the fence we're on," said John Sczesny, a longtime Friendswood resident.

One day after Carter was publicly named Grand Marshal, the city of Friendswood announced she voluntarily stepped down and will not be participating in any of the July 4th activities after receiving threats against her and her family.

That news is tough for some people who call this community home.

"She's a born and raised Friendswood girl and so I think that's pretty upsetting that we would treat our own community that way," said McLaughlin.

"I think that Friendswood, overall, really is a loving environment and unfortunately, some people on either side can be that way, where they are not loving and kind," said Sczesny.

The City of Friendswood released the following statement in response to ABC13's questions:

Ms. Haley Carter was selected for her service as noted in her biography, as well as being a lifelong resident of this City.

The role of the Grand Marshal is decided by the Fourth of July Steering Committee, which is made up of community members appointed by the City Council.

Haley Carter has voluntarily stepped down after receiving threats of harm to herself and her family and will not be participating in any of the Fourth of July activities. There will be no replacement Grand Marshal.

Mayor Turner also released a statement, calling Carter an American hero and someone who would have made the perfect July 4th parade Grand Marshal.

ABC13 reached out to Carter for a comment, but she said she was not up to talking about the matter at any point.

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