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Religious Rite

Denver's Christmas display could use a new coat of hay.

Not everyone has such grandiose ideas. Some Denver fashion designers suggest that the city not just back up and take off one accessory, but take off the whole damned outfit. Nicole Beckett with Agogo Threads requests a simple "blue, blue Christmas," while Deb Henriksen of Equillibrium Clothing would like just evergreen garlands with white lights, richly colored bows and a "lit life-size manger scene -- but not a cheesy one. Beautiful, natural, meaningful."

Even more minimalist in its desires is the Anti-Defamation League. "We would have no holiday display at all," says Bruce DeBoskey, regional director of the ADL's mountain states office. "ŒSeason's greetings' is a euphemism for the religious holidays of this particular season. It's the only season for which we offer greetings. This is a season where many people celebrate different religious observances. ADL believes that these religious observances are wonderful and need to be honored in the home, in the house of worship and in the heart -- not in the public square."

If the public square is going to have decorations, they should at least be interesting. That's the belief of the designers at Belmar, the surprisingly artistic urban development in Lakewood. "In my opinion, holiday decor is really an open field in terms of doing new and interesting things," says Eliza Prall, the marketing director behind the Belmar Christmas trees made of recycled license plates. "People take the same approach everywhere. So if I were to be charged with the opportunity to look at something at the City and County Building, I wouldn't think it has to be nostalgic and traditional. If you look at the country, there are very few programs that have stepped forward and done something unique. You really have to step back and start all over again -- different materials, different methods."

Although Prall doesn't have any specific suggestions for fixing Denver's best-known eyesore, Curious Theatre Company marketing director Mare Trevathan Philpott has one: "What I want to see are those alien uber-sculptures adorned with light-up Rudolph headbands."

Now, that's marketing. And Lynne Bruning, proprietor of the shop The Girl's Gotta Have It!, goes Philpott one better. "If I could make the light display over," she says, "I'd say get rid of the camel, get rid of the ass, get rid of the mother, and, yes, the three kings have to go! I am happy to take the gold. Being a tried-and-true New England WASP, I have always found the display laughable. But if that's what people want and it does not impact me, go ahead, turn our second-most-important governmental architectural edifice into a multicolor religious mythical parody on the magic castle. But honestly, now. This controversy is a great opportunity for change. If it has to be lit, please do it in a way to bring our community together. If we as a people need anything this holiday season, it is a way to come together, communicate effectively and make a positive change for Denver."

Amen.

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