ShareThis Page

For the rest of us: Festivus pole put up at Florida Capitol

| Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 3:48 p.m.
Chaz Stevens from Deerfield Beach, Florida talks to the media next to his Festivus pole made out of beer cans in the rotunda of the Florida Capitol December 11, 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida. Stevens display was intended to counter the religious Christian Nativity manger also on display.
Getty Images
Chaz Stevens from Deerfield Beach, Florida talks to the media next to his Festivus pole made out of beer cans in the rotunda of the Florida Capitol December 11, 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida. Stevens display was intended to counter the religious Christian Nativity manger also on display.
Chaz Stevens from Deerfield Beach, Florida talks to the media next to his Festivus pole made out of beer cans in the rotunda of the Florida Capitol December 11, 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida. Stevens display was intended to counter the religious Christian Nativity manger also on display.
Getty Images
Chaz Stevens from Deerfield Beach, Florida talks to the media next to his Festivus pole made out of beer cans in the rotunda of the Florida Capitol December 11, 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida. Stevens display was intended to counter the religious Christian Nativity manger also on display.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Talk about an airing of grievances.

In protest of a Nativity scene at the Florida Capitol, Chaz Stevens has put up a Festivus pole with beer cans around it.

Sound ridiculous? Stevens agrees, but he did drive about 450 miles from the Fort Lauderdale area just to put up the pole.

“What's the point? There is no point. It's ridiculous. This is the most ridiculous thing I could come up with,” said Stevens, an atheist. “This is about the separation of church and state.”

Because Florida considers the Statehouse rotunda to be a public forum, people can use the space to express themselves or protest, as long as they first apply with a state agency.

Along with the Nativity scene and six-foot Festivus pole, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has put up a banner advocating for the separation of government and religion. A Festivus pole is also on display at the Wisconsin Capitol, along with other displays.

“Festivus for the rest of us” is a non-secular holiday made up by the television show “Seinfeld.” George Costanza's father, Frank, made up Festivus after becoming fed up with the commercialism of Christmas. The celebration includes the airing of grievances during dinner followed by “feats of strength” in which a guest must pin the host before the party ends. Instead of a Christmas tree, Frank Costanza put up a plain aluminum pole - with no ornaments.

At the Florida Capitol last week, several dozen people gathered for the Nativity celebration, including a children's choir. The only people there for the Festivus pole installation were media and Pam Olsen, who organized the Nativity scene.

“I believe in prayer and you know what? I've been praying for you. I mean that sincerely, Chaz,” Olsen said. “As a Christian, I have the Nativity because it's Christ in Christmas. And you have the right to have the beer cans here.”

Stevens laughed. A theological discussion followed, with Olsen talking about her faith and Stevens saying Jesus might as well be Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

“You know what I'm praying for next year? I'm going to pray that they get rid of that thing,” Stevens said, gesturing to the manger scene.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.