Tired of the annual battle over holiday decorations — a seasonal tradition in sensitive South Florida — Boca Raton this year has opted not to display any imagery, religious or otherwise, at City Hall and other facilities. It joins at least one other South Florida city, Weston, in avoiding the wrath of special interest groups by taking a pass on holiday displays.
“The city seems to be in the middle of a decoration maelstrom,” Boca Assistant City Manager Michael Woika said Thursday. “The last few years we’ve tried to strike a balance on decorations, but it seems like we’ve not been able to do that.” Every season, cities grapple with the issue of what to display and where, and how to dodge the seasonal squabble over holiday decorations from religious and secular groups.
Many cities — including Davie, Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Lighthouse Point and Tamarac — try to appease everyone by exhibiting the whole spectrum of displays, a menorah next to a manger, for example. That complies with a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said such displays were not unconstitutional because they endorse no particular religion. Some cities, such as Sunrise, avoid overtly religious displays, like nativity scenes, in City Hall and city parks, but allow such displays in more neutral areas such as civic centers. In Tamarac, a Christmas tree and menorah are on display at the city’s Community Center.
“We have not had any controversy,” said city spokesman Chad Quinn. But Boca Raton can’t seem to dodge that controversy. For the third year in a row, a local pastor plans to launch a salvo at City Hall because it’s bereft of religious Christmas imagery, which he says discriminates against Christians. “Just when you think the city of Boca Raton officials would join in the Christmas spirit, they have engaged in an act of insanity,” said Mark D. Boykin of the Church of All Nations.
This weekend, Boykin will ask his congregants to fashion small creches and join him in carrying them to City Hall on Tuesday. “All we’re asking is just put up a creche, put one up in the spirit of unity,” he said.
“As in years past, he comes to the steps, he makes an impassioned speech, then he and his followers bring the creches in,” Woika said. “He’s exhibiting what he believes to be the appropriate thing.” TO VIEW THIS ARTICLE CLICK HERE