A Festivus Pole Arises Next to Jesus' Manger in Deerfield Beach
Out in Deerfield Beach, on a piece of government-owned property, an eight-foot, five-inch-tall tower of beer cans looms over baby Jesus in his manger. No, it isn't a rogue Art Basel installation that crossed the county line. It's Chaz Stevens' heartfelt salute to the holiday season.
Since the end of November, Stevens — a 48-year-old self-proclaimed attention whore and "rabid atheist" whom New Times deemed "Gadfly of the Year" in 2010 — has been girding for battle with the Deerfield Beach City Commission over holiday decorations.
His beef? A Nativity scene and menorah placed on the front lawn of a city firehouse at the corner of Hillsboro Boulevard and Federal Highway. Stevens argued he should be allowed to construct his own holiday exhibit nearby.
"I would like permission to place an 'anti-religious' display this coming holiday season," Stevens wrote in an email last month to Deerfield Mayor Peggy Noland (who didn't return multiple calls for comment from the Pulp) and a handful of other city officials. "I wish for my display to be located next to the (ever present) manger and menorah."
The local ACLU chapter backed Stevens, calling the city manager to press his case. Last week, City Manager Andy Maurodis called to say Stevens could build his display. Then came the hard part: figuring out what to erect.
Steven's initial suggestion — waist-high block letters reading "WTF" in candy-cane stripes — was a no-go because it could be deemed offensive. A Flying Spaghetti Monster — the god of "Pastafarians," a satirical anti-fundamentalist group — was too esoteric.
Stevens found his answer in a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon and an iconic episode of Seinfeld: He'd build a Festivus pole, the centerpiece of the Costanza family's twisted holiday.
"I think the Festivus pole is perfect," says Barry Butin, co-legal chair of the Broward ACLU. "It does have some religious or holiday symbolism, but it's from a comedy."
As for those who think ill of stacking up 24 beers cans and plopping the eyesore among religious icons and illuminated reindeer, Stevens has one thing to say: "Ba-fucking-humbug."
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