by David Ammons | November 18th, 2009
Remember the holiday First Amendment mess at the state Capitol last year? The quirky, I’ll-do-you-one-better battle of the displays that made THIS Washington the laughingstock for once?
The story starts pretty simply: for 20 years, the Association of Washington Business puts up a gorgeous gi-normous lighted tree in the Rotunda and raised money for needy families. In 2006, the governor lights a menorah. Then comes a Nativity scene (no live animals, at least). Then the atheists put up a bah-on-Christmas, anti-religion placard. Then come the nuttier requests — How about a “Festivus” pole like on TV’s “Seinfeld”? How about a sign from a fundamentalist that “Santa will take you to Hell”? (Presumably toasting those sweet little reindeer?) How about the creationists who wanted to depict a “Flying Spaghetti Monster” as master of the universe? We are not making this up.
Anyway, the sensible folks over at the Department of General Administration have announced an ingenious solution that any mom or dad could have suggested: Hey, nobody gets a display of any kind.
The Christmas tree, now cleverly called a holiday tree, is grandfathered in, as is a similar tree erected by Army guys down at the state-owned city square downtown on Tuesday. (And, no, there will be no tree sponsored by the anti-military crowd. Nice try.)
Meanwhile, two holiday-themed notes from your Capitol:
- The Governor’s Mansion holiday tours are being scheduled for Dec. 9, 10, 16 and 17. For reservations, contact the Capitol Tour Office at 360-902-8880.
- Looking for holiday cheer of the liquid kind? The state Liquor Board has opened liquor and wine shops in four malls — Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Bellis Fair in Bellingham, The Commons in Federal Way, and Pacific Place in Seattle. Gift packages and offerings from local craft distillers will be available. (Are “craft distillers” moonshiners? Just wondering.) The national Governing magazine gave a shout out to the project Tuesday, saying it’s expected to raise $3.8 million and ease the state’s budget deficit just a bit. If customers like the idea, more stores will be added during the 2010 holiday season. (Can state Lottery roadside stands and government-run cigarette shops be far behind? Just joking, we think.)