The town of Georgetown, Delaware, now prohibits unattended public displays — which means that the town's longtime tradition of erecting a Christmas Nativity scene is out of the question.
What are the details?
According to WBOC-TV, the town, which reviews its policies and codes on an annual basis, determined that "unattended structures" such as the Nativity scene will no longer be permitted in the town's historic circle.
The Georgetown Wesleyan Church and other organizations sponsored the Nativity scene during previous years.
Gene Dvornick, town manager, says that banning the Nativity scene is all about preventing a public safety issue.
"If the wind kicks up and there's not anyone there and stuff blows out to the traffic lane," Dvornick said.
Charlie Koskey, owner of Chardon LTG Jewelers on the Circle, told WBOC that the Nativity scene should be permitted.
"We have a beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the center and our light poles all speak of the Christmas season and I think the Nativity scene falls within that," Koskey said. "I think it's important that these symbols represent the faiths of everyone that's gonna be celebrating this time of year."
According to WBOC, Dvornick told the Cape Gazette that the new policy does not "just apply to religious displays."
“There have been instances where unattended displays have been placed on The Circle and became safety issues," Dvornick told the newspaper. “The town's policy on unattended displays does not just apply to religious displays; it applies to any and all unattended displays."
Just last year, nearby Rehoboth Beach banned its Nativity scene from the boardwalk bandstand.
At the time, Rehoboth Mayor Paul Kuhns said that, despite the Nativity being set up on the boardwalk for many years, "city policy is not to have religious displays on public property or city property.
"We didn't want to be exclusive and say put up a Nativity scene and then go say that we're for that religion, and because we don't have anything else, we're not for those religions," Kuhns added.