"I got the official letter," Chaz Stevens announced to New Times late Friday afternoon. "I'm in."
Stevens, a self-described "militant atheist" who is known for relentless, sometimes crude, and usually effective methods of exposing government wrongdoing, got approval today to erect a six-foot-tall "festivus pole" in the rotunda of the Florida Capitol, next to baby Jesus' manger. He will travel to Tallahassee to install it on December 11.
Last year, the City of Deerfield Beach had to allow Stevens to erect his pole on city property, since it had allowed other religious-themed holiday displays. This year, Deerfield opted not to allow any displays at all.
But the state this year allowed private groups -- the Florida Nativity Scene Committee and Reclaim Christ for Christmas -- to place a manger and wise men in the Capitol, so Stevens applied as well.
He noted that he saw a spike in traffic to his blog and suspects that suspicious Capitol staffers "were all over my blog past two days checking me out -- like, who's this nitwit?" but ultimately he was approved without any hassle or legal threats. He says staff from the Department of Management Services were friendly and helped him locate the form he needed. "I would never have found the form in a million years. No muss, no fuss."
"I cannot freakin' believe they approved this!" Stevens said, delighted. "I never thought after last year we would get another 15 minutes of fame -- the pole gets another 15 minutes."
He says he stole the idea from a Seinfeld episode and doesn't even drink beer -- "I'm a recovering alcoholic."
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