A man’s yard filled with toys and Christmas decorations in Ross Township, Pennsylvania has drawn the ire of neighbors and threats from a town council. Robert Ansell has until May 29th to clean up the yard or face a $3000 fine. Ansell owns the home, which is lived in by his brother William.
This particular property has been in the news for years as the Christmas display was once very popular and drew thousands of people each Christmas, much to the consternation of neighbors who had to put up with traffic, trash and parking woes each December.
But conditions have taken a dark turn over the years. Ansell’s Christmas display is nowhere near as jolly as it used to be. Local media reports that there is a Santa Claus urinating the driveway, some blow mold Christmas characters are old and faded, a snowman has been repeatedly run over and there is another Santa with a cone on his head.
Bitterness between neighbors has been frequently bitter. When a neighbor died Ansell hung a sign calling his neighbors thieves and liars.
â€œThey all speak truth in that when you steal somebodyâ€™s mailbox, I mean, you know, put a sign up calling them a thief,â€ said Robert Ansell. â€œIâ€™m just exercising my First Amendment right.â€
Neighbors took a photo of it, though Ansell denies putting an angel in his yard with a knife in her head after he was found guilty of harassment.
â€œKeeping poking the bear and the bearâ€™s going to come back and heâ€™s gonna bite you,â€ William Ansell said.
The northern province of Spain is serious about use of religious terms in its schools: a new law in the socialist-run province of Asturias now forbids using the word Christmas.
Teachers and pupils in Asturias classrooms will now have to refer to Christmas as â€œwinter holidaysâ€ and Easter as â€œsecond term holidaysâ€.
The regionâ€™s socialist-led government has decided to introduce the new terminology in a bid to restrict religious references in the next school year.
Asturiasâ€™s education ministry has offered little explanation for the secular legislation, Spanish daily El Mundo reported on Saturday.
Local religious teachers and institutions have shrugged off the new law, branding it as a â€œstupidityâ€ but also an â€œattackâ€.
â€œThis could be a huge reason for ridicule for Asturian society,â€ conservative association Hazte OÃr (Make Yourself Heard) told the national newspaper.
But Spainâ€™s Workersâ€™ Commissions CC00 and Asturias Teachersâ€™ Association SUATEA have backed the move, suggesting that the school calendar should take every studentâ€™s religious beliefs, whatever they might be, into account.
The Texas state senate passed the Merry Christmas Bill and it has now been sent to Governor Rick Perry for his signature.
The bill would clarify that schools may have Christmas trees, nativity scenes and other displays as long as any display includes a scene or symbol of more than one religion.
â€œThis will provide students, parents, teachers and administrators a safe harbor for openly celebrating a federal holiday without fear of litigation or retribution,â€ said Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville. â€œOur school officials and teachers have enough on their plates without having to worry about frivolous lawsuits and retribution for recognizing Christmas or Hanukkah.â€ Nichols said the guidelines for exchange of greetings such as â€œMerry Christmasâ€ and â€œHappy Hanukkah,â€ as well as the display of symbols marking those holidays, are consistent with rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The legislation does prohibit a display relating to a traditional winter celebration from including a message that encourages adherence to a particular religious belief. After approval of the legislation, Nichols told other senators, â€œThank you members and Merry Christmas to you all.â€
Times are tough in Michigan — real tough. The emergency manager sent to save Flint, Michigan from bankruptcy is going to great lengths to slash budgets and increase revenue. His efforts included a plan to sell the antique Santa and reindeer Christmas display that has adorned city hall for decades. They went up for auction at the starting price of $5.
In other words, there was no longer a job for Santa in Flint, Michigan.
But a local resident, Melodee Mabbitt, says her hometown doesn’t need more bad news, so she and her husband bid $150 for the jolly old elf, his sleigh and four reindeer that sit atop Flint’s city hall during the holidays.
But they were quickly outbid. Then Mabbitt’s mother said she’d match their bid. Mabbitt also posted what was happening on Facebook. And a short time later …
“I was getting phone calls from people saying, ‘Here’s 200 bucks. Go save that Santa!'”
And Mabbitt did, for $1,330.
“We thought that was too sad a story for Flint to have to live with,” Mabbitt says. “We have enough going on in this town without taking our Santa and auctioning him on the Internet.”
She says the group wants to put Santa back to work at city hall.
“He’s lovely. He’s one of these antique Santas you really can’t find anywhere anymore. Replacing him would have been really hard for the city to do, especially given the situation we’re in.
“He’s a symbol of hope for everybody in the community and for children,” Mabbitt says.
A Christmas light fight is gaining momentum months ahead of the holiday season in Plantation, Florida where a home with more than 200,000 lights has neighbors there fed up. Hyatt Extreme Christmas, a nationally known home famous for lights, decorations and plenty of traffic, is coming under fire from neighbors who declare they just can’t take it anymore.
According to The Sun Sentinel neighbors are headed to court after the city said it has legally done all it can to scale back the display that includes almost 200,000 lights, a 20-foot Ferris wheel that gives stuffed animals a ride, a 30-foot Christmas tree, life-size gingerbread men, a snow-blowing machine, moving elves and a 20-foot inflatable movie screen that loops Disney movies.
“I’ve tried to be the peacemaker,” lamented Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic on Friday. “It’s just not happening. It’s like the Hatfields and the McCoys out there.”
The issue might wind up in the court system. Bendekovic said residents have the option of asking a civil judge to declare the property a nuisance, citing a quality-of-life issue. “It’s a civil matter â€” neighbor to neighbor,” she said.
In the meantime, she said the city has applied to the state for “no parking” signs along Old Hiatus Road. While the mayor said the intention was for consistency along the road, it would limit the number of people who could attend the display, because throngs of cars park on the street around the corner from the Hyatt house.
“The city has done legally [everything] it can,” she said.
The fireworks are just beginning on this controversy and given the off-season attention it is getting we think it may lead the way this upcoming season as light fights seem to be one of the hottest issues in the so-called War on Christmas for 2013.