The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has set its sights on a small town in New Jersey for displaying a Festivus Pole atop a Christmas tree during holiday time.
Festivus is both a parody and a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 that serves as an alternative to participating in the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season.
The holiday’s celebration, as it was shown on Seinfeld, includes a Festivus dinner, an unadorned aluminum Festivus pole, practices such as the “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength”, and the labeling of easily explainable events as “Festivus miracles”.
The ACLU recently filed a federal lawsuit against Lower Upper Township of Cape May on behalf of resident Joseph Schlotkins, who claims the very sight has caused him “irreparable harm,”.
The lawsuit alleges that the Festivus Pole atop the Christmas tree downtown violates his First Amendment rights.
“The Festivus Pole is the best-known symbol of Festivus and Lower Upper Township’s prominent display of this symbol represents an establishment of a faux religion in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit states, as well as “favoritism toward the show ‘Seinfeld’ “.
As a popular culture display, the Festivus Pole has no business on public property, the ACLU argues.
Joseph’s fellow residents were shocked that one of their neighbors, in a town of 2,300, would go so far as to file a lawsuit over a Festivus Pole display that’s lit up the downtown area for many years.
“You gotta sit down and talk about it before you file the lawsuits,” said Lower Upper Township longtime Mayor Bert “Mad Dog” Halloway. “Most people love that episode of ‘Seinfeld’.”
“I think it’s a bit of a disgrace on our town,” said local computer programmer Lou Gierloc.
“There’s a light pole on every corner here,” he said. “Is he offended by all the poles? Or just Festivus Poles?”.
Other residents handed out poles over the weekend by the tree in protest of Joseph’s legal action.
“Schlotkins must be airing his Festivus grievances early this year,” noted Mayor Halloway with a chuckle.