4

Nativity scene protests a Denver holiday tradition: Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

^
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

The riot of shepherds and reindeer and snowmen and candy canes and an oddly large cow, not to mention Jesus, Mary and Joseph, appears on the steps of the City & County Building every November, and protests inevitably follow. But Scrooges miss the real question: Why is Denver's Nativity scene so tacky?

The Colorado Coalition of Reason has purchased three billboards complaining about the scene. Explains Marvin Straus of CoCore, whose first board will go up on Monday: "The Nativity scene is a religious icon and it's on public property."

Tacky, yes. But religious? Only if you worship rampant commercialism. Here's my inventory of Denver's Nativity scene:

1) Plastic Santa in his sleigh, heading up a ramp behind four pairs of plastic reindeer, with red-nosed Rudolph in the lead.

2) Wooden stable covered with glass to protect the contents: lots of hay and eight elf-like figures imitating the Country Bears, several playing instruments -- including a "Sunnyland" washboard -- while two elderly elves (or are they Oompah Loompahs?) canoodle in the back.

3) Plastic snowman with carrot nose, standing by more hay.

4) Garlanded arch with two Christmas trees on each side.

5) Wooden stable covered with glass to protect the contents: lots of hay and eight figures depicting the Nativity scene, complete with Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus, three Wise Men and two shepherds (their hands outstretched, but holding no staffs), as well as a donkey, a camel, three sheep and a very large cow. And on top, an angel.

6) More hay.

Then there are lights, of course, lots of lights -- energy-efficient LED lights purchased last year and guaranteed to save money in the decades to come.

And the Nativity scene will re-emerge every holiday season for decades, judging from the many rounds of court fights that protesters have waged and lost. I unwrapped all those cases in my Creche course on Denver Nativity law last year -- but that won't stop the protesters this round, or turn off the lights that turn the City and County Building into a rancid birthday cake every year.

Let there be blight.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "CLEAR returns to Denver International Airport, backed by ex-cabinet official Michael Chertoff."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.