Mundelein won't add religious symbols to Christmas tree display

  • Fireworks explode over Mundelein's official Christmas tree during the 2008 lighting ceremony at Kracklauer Park. The village board on Monday voted not to add a Hanukkah menorah or other religious symbols to the winter display.

    Fireworks explode over Mundelein's official Christmas tree during the 2008 lighting ceremony at Kracklauer Park. The village board on Monday voted not to add a Hanukkah menorah or other religious symbols to the winter display. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer 2008

 
 
Updated 10/10/2017 11:29 AM
Editor's note: The article has been updated to clarify that Mundelein officials won’t place a Hanukkah menorah or other religious symbols near the Christmas tree that’s decorated each winter in Kracklauer Park or on other publicly owned land in town.

Mundelein officials won't place a Hanukkah menorah or other religious symbols near the Christmas tree that's decorated each winter in Kracklauer Park or on other publicly owned land in town.

The village board on Monday formally voted to keep the town's winter holiday display secular.

 

The unanimous decision was prompted by a request from a local resident to add a menorah. That led to a vigorous debate on social media and an official community survey that revealed most residents didn't want religious symbols displayed on public property in Mundelein.

The survey also showed people overwhelmingly opposed to using public funds to purchase and maintain religious holiday decorations.

Kracklauer Park, on Route 45 north of Crystal Street, is owned by the Mundelein Park District. The village and the park district have jointly held a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony there since 2000.

Federal courts have ruled a Christmas tree is a secular symbol while declaring a menorah -- a nine-branch candleholder used by Jews to celebrate Hanukkah -- a religious symbol.

Despite the earlier online controversy, no one in the audience at Monday's board meeting spoke about the policy during the public comment section of the meeting.

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Trustees didn't have anything to say on the matter before voting, either.

Mundelein's tradition of Christmas displays dates to the 1960s. At one time, the town's display was set up outside the old village hall on Hawley Street, and it contained a Christmas tree and other decorations.

The village was sued in 1987 by a resident and the American Jewish Congress after a scene representing Jesus' birth was added, but the village won the case.

A menorah was part of the village hall display in 1996 and 1997. In 1998, officials approved a new display that didn't contain a Nativity scene or a menorah.

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