Thursday, December 23, 2004

'Seinfeld' Festivus display vies with Nativity

More Christmas-haters....

When a Florida church group put a Nativity scene on public property, officials warned it might open the door to other religious -- and not-so-religious -- displays. They were right.

Since the Nativity was erected in Polk County, displays have gone up honoring Zoroastrianism and the fake holiday Festivus, featured on the TV sitcom "Seinfeld."

The Polk County Commission voted 4-1 Wednesday to permit the Nativity scene to remain across the street from the courthouse, as well as to make that area a "public forum" open to any type of display.

But the commission insisted that unless someone claims a particular display and submits a written request asking it remain, it would be removed. By Wednesday evening, no one had claimed the Festivus display, and the commission said it would come down; a woman claimed the Zoroastrianism display, which was to stay.

The debate began December 15 when a handmade creche with the figures of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus was erected by a Bible study group from the First Baptist Church of Bartow.

"The real spirit of Christmas is the birth of Christ," said Marvin Pittman, a retired law enforcement officer and member of the congregation. "We felt it needs to be in the public eye, so we did it."

Other displays are fine, too, he said, adding, "If somebody wants to do that, it's their right."

And true to form, the site almost immediately sprouted alternative displays, including a simple sign that reads: "Festivus for the Rest of Us -- Donated to Polk County by the Seinfeld Fan Club."

We can't make this stuff up, folks. Well, OK, we could. But we didn't.


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