Wadena nixes Nativity scene in city decorations; residents are opposed

Published 9:40 am Friday, November 13, 2015

WADENA — A Nativity scene that has long been part of the city of Wadena’s Christmas decorations will no longer be displayed, despite a strong showing of support from citizens who oppose its removal.

It was the threat of a lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wisconsin, that led the City Council Tuesday night to vote to donate the replicas of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus to a private group.

Mayor George Deiss said the Nativity scene has been displayed at Burlington Northern Park for as long as anyone in the city can remember. It formerly made its home in the band shell, but caught the attention of a resident last year after it was moved to the heart of the park.

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“They were offended that we had put it out on city property,” Deiss said.

Deiss said the Nativity scene has been around so long that it’s more of a tradition than religious display.

“When something is put up that many years it becomes a tradition to the city,” he said.