Boca Raton City Council: We Won’t Change Holiday Display Policy

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BOCA RATON (CBSMiami) – Controversy came to Boca Raton last Christmas when someone put up a pentagram display in Sanborn Square near a crèche and a menorah.

On Tuesday night, the Boca Raton City Council considered an ordinance that would prohibit “private installations” in the park, instead allowing the city to decide which displays can be erected.

More than a dozen Boca Raton residents told the city council that they like things just the way they are.

Residents who spoke said Tuesday that despite the challenges from the pentagram and vandalism of the symbol, they don’t want the council to change anything.

“I’m here to protect our first amendment right,” said resident Dr. Victoria Gylys-Morin. “To give away our freedom to peaceably exercise our religion when people have sacrificed their lives, their families for that, that’s not the America that we have been.”

“I don’t care what’s displayed – pentagram, crèche, menorah, elephants,” said resident Ron Sheldon. “Government should not control. Protect and serve for the public safety.”

Others saw it as an attempt to sanitize the types of holiday displays in the park.

“We are trying to dissect everything so that we please everyone and we really aren’t pleasing anyone,” said one resident.

For many though, it came down to freedom of speech.

“I honor the fact that it is free speech,” said Rector Andrew Sherman, of St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church. “I find the Pentagram a vile symbol but I honor that in America we allow people to exercise free speech.”

Many felt the only way to push back on things that they don’t like is to stand up and be heard.

“Evil wins when good people are unwilling to do the courageous thing, the right thing,” said Gylys-Morin.

Council members listened and decided not to maintain the status quo.

“Several of the members of the council made it apparent that they came in with one opinion this evening and as they heard the community and really unified in their ask – and their ask was don’t do anything to change what’s been our tradition since 1990,” said Council Member Robert Weinroth.

Some resident made suggestions that there needs to be more policing in the park – especially after there was vandalism last year. Others said that video cameras might help deter vandals.

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