Walmart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) issued an apology to Florida elementary school students who were turned away from singing "God Bless America" at the chain's Pembroke Pines location to pay tribute to the victims Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The brouhaha began when young chorus members from Coconut Palm Elementary in Miramar, Fla., showed up in patriotic garb to the store Tuesday as part of a pre-planned 9/11 tribute, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
A representative for the chain's location at 12800 Pines Blvd. in Pembroke Pines would not allow the students to sing inside the store, Coconut Palm Elementary Principal Terri Thomas told the paper. Instead, the chorus wound up giving their performance by an American flag in a parking lot near the Walmart.
Ana Conner, Coconut Palm Elementary's choir director, said she arranged the tribute with a different Walmart manager then the one who was working around 7 p.m. Tuesday, when the kids showed up to the Pembroke Pines location. The manager who was working wound up calling the police, she told WSVN.
"On a scale from one to 10, a 10 as far as disappointment goes," Connor told the Miami Fox affiliate.
Parent Grace Capelli said her daughter, who was in the choir, thought she and her peers were to blame for the incident.
"My daughter was very concerned, she had felt that she had done something wrong," Capelli told WSVN.
As word of the snub spread, Walmart issued an apology for the slight and wants to bring the kids back so they can give the proper 9/11 tribute.
"We regret this happened and apologize to the students, parents, and the school for this experience," the Bentonville, Ark.,-based corporation said in a statement to CBS Miami. "Unfortunately this was a situation of miscommunication and should have been handled differently. We are inviting the kids back to the store to help honor the victims and fallen heroes."
The school's principal said Coconut Palm Elementary will most likely take up Walmart's offer.
"I'm a bigger person, and I will accept an apology," Thelmas told the Sun-Sentinel. "I think we would do it in a heartbeat."
Walmart opened the Pembroke Pines location in January. The Bentonville corporation touted that the store would create 300 jobs and that its layout would improve customers' shopping experiences.
"The layout of the store is easy to navigate, which will save our customers time as they shop for everyday necessities," store manager Frank Sealy said in a press release announcing the new location. "By grouping the products that our customers most often purchase, including health and beauty and pet supplies, we are making one-stop shopping even easier."
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