Florida Today: Festivus pole set in Florida Capitol to protest nativity

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A 6-foot-tall stack of empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans, built to mark the sitcom-inspired Festivus holiday, returned to the Florida Capitol on Monday for a second year.

The pole, the creation of Deerfield Beach political blogger Chaz Stevens, will stand across the first-floor rotunda from a more-elaborate nativity scene put up the same day by the Florida Prayer Network.

Stevens sees his pole as a protest against the nativity scene, intended to make a point about the need for a separation between church and state.

“My game plan was very simple, make a circus out of it, make it a fiasco, make it ridiculous,” Stevens said Monday. “I hope next year that some Haitian fellows with the slaying of chickens want to come up, or some other crazy what not, because we need to take all of this out of here.”

Stevens’ Festivus pole is among a number of displays that have been approved by the Department of Management Services for this year’s holiday season. A one-week limit has been placed on the displays.

Festivus is a “holiday” created for the TV sitcom “Seinfeld” as a non-commercial festival “for the rest of us” in the Christmas and year-end holiday season.

More attention to the Capitol holiday displays is expected next Monday as the New York-based Satanic Temple will put up a display that will banner the phrase “Happy holidays from the Satanic Temple” atop a diorama of an angel falling into hell.

The Department of Management Services ruled the display “grossly offensive” a year ago. The temple threatened legal action. The Florida Prayer Network’s nativity scene will be replaced next Monday by another nativity sponsored by the International House of Prayer Tallahassee.

Pam Olsen, president of the Florida Prayer Network, said she isn’t deterred by the displays proposed by Stevens, atheists groups and the Satanists. “They’re here to protest Christ and Christmas,” Olsen said.

“While I don’t like some of the displays, and I think it’s inappropriate, I’m sad because I think we should look for the hope and the message of love and joy and peace that the holiday does bring.”

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