City to reconsider Christmas Displays - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City to reconsider Christmas Displays

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December 22, 2005

Albany -- After criticism of Albany's "Holiday" Decorations for not saying Merry Christmas, officials say they are listening.

Committee members who select the decorations say they have no problem including clearly "Christmas" displays. The city moved away from decorations that explicitly mentioned Christmas more than ten years ago after lawsuits against religious displays on public property.

The city leases the displays and can ask for different decorations, including more Merry Christmas themes, next year.

Rachelle Bitterman, one of the dozen committee members who oversee the decorations,  says they want to make people happy with the displays. Bitterman said "It is the Christmas season. It's also the Holiday season, and encompasses a lot of holidays for a lot of different people. But of course Merry Christmas should be up, it would be nice."

 Committee leaders say the city's Christmas Decorations are meant to draw people downtown for economic development and spread the holiday spirit for all faiths.

Those committee leaders ask that downtown churches and businesses put out more manger scenes and Christian faith displays on their private property next year where they can not be challenged.

None of the major downtown churches currently has any sort of outdoor religious display.

If a lawsuit were filed over Christmas decorations on city property, taxpayers would have to pay to fight it.

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