The mayor of Denver said he is “glad” to oblige the local Christian community and keep the “Merry Christmas” sign as part of the Christmas display, which includes the Nativity scene, in front of the City and County Building.
Last week, a journalist quoted Mayor John Hickenlooper as saying that the “Merry Christmas” sign should be replaced with a sign that reads “Happy Holidays,” which, according to Hickenlooper, would encompass greetings for people of all religious and cultural observances.
"Over the past several days, it has become clear to me that there is strong community sentiment to maintain the 'Merry Christmas' sign, and I am glad to oblige,” said the mayor in a statement.
“My intention was never to disrespect or slight anyone or any religious tradition. I apologize to anyone who may have been offended or mistakenly felt I was being anti-Christmas,” he said.
“'Hickenlooper' might have two O's, but I am not 'Scrooge,'” the mayor joked. “We are happy to keep the 'Merry Christmas' sign, and perhaps we can explore the possibility of also adding a 'Happy Holidays' sign to the display next year,” he said.
The mayor also addressed the appropriateness of having the Nativity scene in front of the City and County Building. He said the courts decided the issue a long time ago and the Nativity scene will remain a part of the holiday display “out of respect for a longstanding community tradition.”
Nevertheless, organizers of Denver’s annual Parade of Lights decided to ban Christmas songs and the words “Merry Christmas” from all floats this year, reported the Catholic League. The chief sponsor of the parade, which will be held today and tomorrow, is KUSA-TV, the local NBC affiliate.
Parade spokesman Michael Krikorian said the decision was made “to avoid that specific religious message out of respect for other religions in the region.” Catholic League president William Donohue says Krikorian’s explanation is vague and without merit and says the decision discriminates against Christians.