"The erection was today," Chaz Stevens announced via phone.
The Deerfield Beach activist and "militant atheist" made it up to Tallahassee to install his Festivus pole in the rotunda of the state Capitol at 9 a.m. today.
His antics are to make a point about the separation of church and state. Stevens was inspired after Christian groups were permitted to install a manger and wise men in the rotunda. Since his effort made headlines, the state has received more applications from groups wanting to display "holiday" signs -- two from atheist groups and one from the Satanic Temple.
Expect to see Stevens all over the news tonight -- he said 22 cameras were filming him as he put up his pole. "Pam Olson, the woman that put the manger up from the Florida Prayer Network, she told me that her entire network is praying for me," Stevens reported. "Jesus H. Christ!" he exclaimed. If prayer works, "I'll be hanging out with Scarlett Johansson!"
Stevens says there was no sign of Rick Scott in the Capitol. "I have a feeling like everything thing else Chaz Stevens does, those people are going to run the opposite way," he said. But there is an armed guard in the rotunda, so "nobody's going to be pinching my Festivus pole."
Yesterday, he said, Gretchen Carlson, a Fox News anchor, expressed irritation about his pole on national TV. So Stevens, naturally, applied to authorities in her town of Greenwich, Connecticut, to get permission to install a Festivus pole there. "If they give me permission, I'll fly up there."
Stevens reflected on all the attention: "I thought my corruption-fighting would get me attention -- instead, it's beer cans... If it brings attention to my fighting government corruption, it's good."
Stevens said the pole will stand until January 3.