School Board Mulls Killing Christmas Concert

Another school board wants to cancel a traditional Christmas concert, move it to the end of January and call it a “Winter Concert” out of fear of offending non-Christian citizens.

The New Hyde Park School Board of Long Island, New York cast a split vote on the issue in a meeting on July 9th. Under the proposal, put forward by Board President Patricia Rudd, the current concert would have been moved to the end of January or early February, and renamed Winter Concert. The vote was 3-3, with one abstention. In the end, the Board passed a further proposal to study the issue with an advisory group of parents, and to revisit the topic at future meetings.

Superintendent Regina Cohn expressed her disappointment with the defeat, telling the board that “I feel sorry for the children. I have never said this to a board before. I am very disappointed that it has come to this.”

Referring to the fact that she could have made the decision to move the concert without bringing it before the board, Superintendent Cohn added: “Out of respect for the board I did allow this to happen, but I am sorry that it did. I will tell you that as someone who is not Christian, who in a previous job went to work on Dec. 25, that this is something that is offensive.”

In discussion prior to the vote, Vice-President Robert Nugent said the proposal was “a wonderful idea to deal with an issue that has been extremely controversial in the past.”

“This has not been discussed fully in our community for 10 years, and 10 years ago this community was a very different place,” he said, adding that “we have to honor the fact that we are changing as a community.”

Pointing to the rows of empty chairs for the public, board member Ernest Gentile cast doubt on the divisiveness of the issue in the community, saying, “The general public has not come here in enough numbers in the last 10 years to justify changing Christmas to something else.”

“I think the issue is about one word – Christmas. It’s nothing to do with religion,” he said. “I don’t think we should be moving anything. I don’t think that anyone goes to the concert expecting it to be Jesus Christ on the cross.”

He was supported by trustee David Del Santo, who said, “I am not in favor of moving anything, and I’m not religious.”

“When folks move into the neighborhood,” Del Santo continued, “they should adapt to our way of life. One of the freedoms you have here is the freedom to move if you don’t like it.”

“It’s an emotional issue for a lot of people,” said Joseph Bongiorno. “I don’t think it’s a question of giving in. I think it’s a question of doing what’s right. I think we should look at moving the concert and celebrating the children.”

City Hopes Summer Debate Will Dim Christmas Controversy

Fort Collins, Colorado is going to try this again.

Forced into the frenzied annual debate of the “War on Christmas” by a policy allowing only Christmas trees as part of the city’s annual “holiday display”, Fort Collins is looking for a way to placate Christmas traditionalists without offending community religious leaders.

Why the controversy?

Because Fort Collins cannot decide just was is and is not religious about Christmas.

Mistakenly calling Christmas trees a religious symbol, the City Council last year was forced to endure criticism for not allowing a Menorah on display as equal time. Taking a cue from Seattle — which voted to ban Christmas trees from the Sea-Tac airport — Fort Collins will issue a final decision on Halloween.

We’re suggesting the committee is Fort Collins do a little research before they start. Christmas trees are a purely secular symbol of Christmas. Menorahs are clearly religious. Perhaps somewhere out there a city council will stand up and sort this out correctly. We’re betting the over all “holiday” display will feature nondescript, non-offending, designed by committee decorations that will not offend anyone — and will be as far from Christmas as can possibly be, thus pleasing no one.

And a Halloween decision? That is “War on Christmas” headline season. Fort Collins is practically begging to make the news with this issue.

City Works to Embrace Christmas Light Enthusiasts

Finally! A good-news story of a city working to keep a tradition of Christmas lights alive. The Grand Haven Tribune reported over the weekend on a move of a popular Christmas light destination from a residential area to a better situated public area for a light display that drew more than 60,000 people last year from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

Brad Boyink, the technical adviser to the Musical Fountain Committee, created the light display and operated it at his home on Heather Court in Spring Lake Township for the first time last year. He estimated around 60,000 people visited the display between Thanksgiving and when he cut it off in late December. He said donations during the show’s five-week run resulted in $20,038 that Boyink gave to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan.

While the donations made the show a success, Boyink said, the high traffic it brought to his neighborhood created a safety problem and he decided it needed a more public location.

“It really needed to be under a city’s control because of the liability issue, having a better location to expand, and it made the most logical choice being under the Musical Fountain Committee because they already deal with (a similar) production,” Boyink said, referring to the summerlong fountain show run from Dewey Hill.

Boyink is donating $5,000 worth of computer equipment and lights from his display for the city show. But the 20,600 LED (light emitting diode) lights used in Boyink’s home show is just a start — a total of 140,000 lights on six 40-foot towers are planned for the 2007 show on Harbor Island, Jonas said, with potential increases in the future. A new light show program will be done each year.

“It still requires council approval because it’s on city property,” he said. “We anticipate we’ll get that approval Monday night.”

We applaud the city of Grand Haven and the many individuals and organizations in that community who are working together in the Spirit of Christmas.

Since Christmas 2006 we have reported on incidents of everything from violence in neighborhoods to City governments being mean spirited and grinch-like in their denial of Christmas light displays. It is refreshing to hear media reports of a community cooperating together to bring about a Christmas light display that is safe, respectful of the surroundings and fun for those who enjoy lights during the season.  

Seattle Airport to Deny Christmas Trees Again

They will allow lights, garland and associated decorations of Christmas but not Christmas trees at the Seattle Airport. Late last year controversy ensued when a Rabbi cried foul that Christmas trees at the Seattle Airport violated separation of church and state and demanded that an 8-foot tall Menorah be placed next to the highest tree on display. The airport quickly took down the trees causing a media furor and fanning the flames of debate about the public display of Christmas.

This year they appear to be taking no chances by deciding during the heat of summer to bypass the controversy altogether. Forget the fact that Seattle is well known for it’s fir trees. Forget the fact that Christmas trees are not a religious symbol in any way.  

The decision for this year’s Christmas display at Sea-Tac was made by a 12-person committee who will now employ a designer to craft this year’s display. The committee included the Rabbi at the center of last year’s controversy though reports note that he has attended just one meeting of the commision this year.

Macy’s Refuses Sick Kid Ride With Santa

News reports from Rhode Island tell the sad tale:

Ian Zuchowski had a wish to ride in a parade.

But not just any parade — the Macy’s parade to ride with Santa Claus.

“Santa is like one of his favorite people in the whole wide world,” said Ian’s mother, Patty Zuchowski. “He wants to be an elf when he grows up.”

Ian has microcephaly — a small brain. He is 9 years old.

Ian’s family was working with Make-A-Wish Foundation but the two very connected entities just couldn’t make it happen for Ian. (Macy’s donates $6 million a year to Make-A-Wish).

Macy’s has a policy that no outsiders participate in their parades. Macy’s claims that it’s a parade for entertainment and that it would be a safety issue.

We’re encouraging Make-A-Wish to inform Macy’s about a modern invention called the child safety seat and to insist that they let Ian work as an elf, for just one day, with Santa in the parade.