The Sideshow

It's Festivus time in Florida's Capitol! Prepare for the airing of grievances!

The Sideshow

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There's not a war on Christmas, but in Florida, there's definitely a laugh track. Get ready, Tallahassee, for Festivus.

For those of a certain age, the word "Festivus" may bring back happier memories than any real-world holiday. Festivus is a creation of the television show "Seinfeld," a holiday "for the rest of us" designed as a protest against rampant commercialism. And now, as the Orlando Sentinel notes, it's the inspiration for a new display in the Florida state Capitol rotunda.

The rotunda is already home to a nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ, courtesy of the Florida Prayer Network. Now, thanks to political activist Chaz Stevens, there will be a 6-foot-tall aluminum Festivus pole — specifically, a stack of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans — alongside the manger scene.

Stevens is upfront and unapologetic about his perspective: that a nativity scene does not belong on state property because of the division of church and state. He terms the Festivus display "my ridiculous statement versus what I consider, as an atheist, as their ridiculous statement."

Oh, but there's more. In what is apparently either a very large or very crowded rotunda, there's also a banner paid for by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group that represents the rights of those who do not subscribe to any religious view. The group's "Bill of Rights nativity" sign reads, "At this season of the Winter Solstice, we celebrate the Birth of the Unconquered Sun — the TRUE reason for the season."

The state Department of Management Services is responsible for permitting the various banners and displays, and certainly seems to be amenable to a wide range of viewpoints. "As long as [a display] meets [state] guidelines and there is space available in the capitol," said Ben Wolf, DMS spokesman, "DMS is happy to allow all cultures, and denominations, and committees and groups to put up their holiday displays."

Festivus includes feats of strength, which local Tallahassee institution Florida State University appears to have covered with its presence in the upcoming national championship of college football. There's also the airing of grievances, which in Florida could take an awfully long time and which is certain to get even longer with this particular protest.

The Festivus display goes live on Wednesday. Just for a refresher, the original story of Festivus:

Happy Festivus to all!

Contact Jay Busbee at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.

 

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