Anyone questioning Ellwood City’s holiday orientation received a definitive answer as the first float in Saturday’s Christmas parade passed the municipal building on Lawrence Avenue.
Children from the First Christian Church, dressed as cattle, sheep and angels, waved to the crowd assembled on the sidewalks.
“The night-before-Christmas creatures are looking for Jesus,” the public address announcer said. “Are you?”
A letter from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, revealed earlier this week, challenged the borough’s decision to display a Christian Nativity on municipal building property. The foundation asked to display a banner that said, in part, “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
There were at least three Christian-themed floats in Saturday’s parade. There were no Freedom From Religion floats or banners. Municipal property, late Saturday afternoon, housed the Nativity along with Santa Claus, a reindeer and sleigh, a snowman, a Kwanzaa sign and a wind-blown Trader Horn advertisement (“all Christmas wreaths in stock 25% off, window candles 2 for $5.”)
When Saturday’s parade ended, three generations of Ellwood City resident Doris Rosado’s family visited the borough’s Nativity for photographs. There were two other families that arrived for photographs before them.
“I feel good about Ellwood City taking a stand,” Rosado said. “If you don’t believe in it, don’t look at it.”
On Friday, Ellwood City area residents rallied in support of the Nativity. One of the Christian supporters planted a handmade banner in the ground next to the Nativity. It reflected the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech … ”
Ashley Thompson, Rosado’s daughter, took a similar stance.
“I understand both sides of the controversy, but this is what the people want. Shouldn’t the people of Ellwood City decide what to do?”