Loudoun County Overrules Grinches

Christmas displays allowed on courthouse grounds

By Matthew Stabley
|  Wednesday, Dec 2, 2009  |  Updated 12:40 PM EDT
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It's not quite a Christmas miracle, but Leesburg is getting its holiday season back.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors overturned a ban on displaying a Christmas tree and other symbols on the county courthouse grounds in Leesburg, the Loudoun Times-Mirror reported.

For 50 years, the Rotary Club of Leesburg has put up a Christmas tree at the courthouse. For 20, Dennis and Debbie Welch have put up the courthouse's nativity scene. Just before Thanksgiving, they learned their holiday traditions were coming to an end thanks to a new ban on displays on courthouse grounds issued by the the Facilities and Grounds Committee. The board-appointed citizens' committee said it was getting overwhelmed by requests for displays and wanted to protect the century-old courthouse from damage.

The policy was news to residents and the Leesburg Town Council, despite having a council member on the committee, the Times-Mirror reported.

Members of the Town Council and County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio asked the Board of Supervisors to overrule the decision. After a Monday evening public input session, the supervisors voted 7-1 in favor of holiday cheer, allowing trees, nativity scenes, menorahs and other holiday decorations to be placed outside the courthouse.

Blue Ridge District Supervisor Jim Burton was the lone Scrooge.

Supervisors who voted down the ban said it was a First Amendment issue. Burton complained the board moved too hastily, without a full understanding of the legal issues.

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