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Holiday displays banished from Florida city park

By The Associated Press
01.17.04

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach officials have decided to do away with all holiday decoration in a town park after being sued by two women who wanted to display a Nativity scene alongside a menorah and a Christmas tree.

The town council voted unanimously to give a menorah back to its donor, and merchants decided to move a Christmas tree from a centrally located park.

Maureen Donnell and Fern deNarvaez sued the town in federal court, arguing the town’s policy of not allowing the Nativity scene violated free speech and equal protection. They also alleged that the city's refusal demonstrated hostility toward Christianity.

Town officials had argued that the Christmas tree — which had no angels, stars or other religious ornaments — and the menorah were secular symbols.

But following the advice of the Palm Beach Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which recommended the town stay out of religious activity, the council decided Jan. 13 to designate another park as the site for any religious or holiday displays to be erected at private expense.

“Any decision you make is not bulletproof,” said Town Attorney John Randolph. “Whatever you do can be challenged.”

Donnell said she planned to press on with her federal suit.

“Just because they decided in January, no, they’re not going to be home free,” she said.


Previous
Florida women sue over city's rejection of Nativity scene
Maureen Donnell, Fern deNarvaez dispute Palm Beach's position that Christmas trees and menorahs in town park are secular symbols. 12.18.03

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'Festivus' shares space with Nativity scene

Florida town finds that allowing creche on public property opens it to other displays, religious and not-so-religious. 12.25.04

2 Florida cities sued for rejecting Nativity scene
Federal lawsuit alleges Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach violated First Amendment by banning crèche from public park but allowing Menorah, Christmas tree. 12.08.05

Christmas trees going back up at Sea-Tac
Rabbi who wanted menorah added to airport displays says he never wanted trees taken down. 12.12.06

Nativity clip plays at Chicago bazaar
Trailer for 'The Nativity Story' shown after city drops objection to display. 12.25.06

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