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Gay pride pole is only Capitol holiday display submitted so far

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

T’is the season (almost), but so far the Gay Pride version of the Festivus pole is the only display to ask for placement in the Capitol Rotunda.

As of Tuesday, South Florida blogger Chaz Stevens had submitted the only application for a holiday display, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Management Services, the state’s real estate manager.

Even then, there’s no guarantee his offering for this year — a rainbow-colored pole with a disco ball on top — will make it inside the Capitol.

“His application is being processed,” said DMS spokeswoman Natalee Singleton in an email, without further comment.

In years past, Stevens was approved to show a six-foot-tall pole made of empty Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans, meant to mark Festivus, the fictional holiday from a 1997 episode of “Seinfeld.”

Festivus, celebrated on Dec. 23, showcases “an unadorned aluminum pole” instead of a Christmas tree. It includes a dinner, an “airing of grievances” and various “feats of strength.”

But his wasn’t the most contentious of the holiday displays.

The Satanic Temple, refers to itself as a religion but doesn’t subscribe to worshipping the devil, last year displayed a cardboard diorama with an angel figurine suspended by fishing line, falling from clouds made of cotton into flames made of construction paper.

The state had rejected the same diorama the year before that, saying it was “grossly offensive” and nearly causing a First Amendment lawsuit. An email to a Temple representative in Florida about this year’s plans was not responded to by late Tuesday.

A Tallahassee woman who described herself as “a devout Catholic” was arrested and charged with criminal mischief last year after she tried to remove the diorama and was stopped by Capitol Police.

Prosecutors, however, later dropped the case against Susan Hemeryck, saying the state couldn’t “prove actual damage” to the diorama.

Other past displays have included:

  • A banner celebrating the Winter Solstice from The Freedom From Religion Foundation;
  • crèche from Florida Prayer Network/Florida Nativity Scene Committee;
  • A placard with a tongue-in-cheek message to “celebrate the true meaning of Xmas” with “friends,” “fun” and “Chinese food” by American Atheists; and
  • A smaller, framed picture of a nativity scene from The International House of Prayer in Tallahassee.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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