December 2 2004, 1:29 PM
Returning to Denver after a three-day trip to the East Coast, Mayor John Hickenlooper today reversed his earlier decision that would have removed a "Merry Christmas" sign from this year's holiday display at the City and County Building. In announcing the change, Hickenlooper said:
"Over the past several days, it has become clear to me that there is strong community sentiment to maintain the 'Merry Christmas' sign, and I am glad to oblige. My intention was never to disrespect or slight anyone or any religious tradition. I apologize to anyone who may have been offended or mistakenly felt I was being anti-Christmas. 'Hickenlooper' might have two O's, but I am not 'Scrooge.'"For those who are interested, we've posted Hickenlooper's entire statement below.
"The holiday season is an important time of year for many faiths and communities to celebrate their religious and cultural traditions, as well as a time for all people to come together as a community, to help those less fortunate, and to set goals for the year ahead. "Over the decades, some have questioned the appropriateness of a nativity scene at the City and County Building, but the courts decided that issue long ago. The nativity scene remains a part of the holiday display, and out of respect for a longstanding community tradition, there are no plans otherwise. "Last week a journalist accurately quoted my comments that a 'Happy Holidays' sign encompassing greetings for all religious and cultural observances would be an appropriate complement to the existing holiday display. I was under the impression -- perhaps erroneously -- that the existing 'Merry Christmas' sign was becoming worn out and would need to be replaced soon anyway. "Over the past several days, it has become clear to me that there is strong community sentiment to maintain the 'Merry Christmas' sign, and I am glad to oblige. My intention was never to disrespect or slight anyone or any religious tradition. I apologize to anyone who may have been offended or mistakenly felt I was being anti-Christmas. 'Hickenlooper' might have two O's, but I am not 'Scrooge.' We are happy to keep the 'Merry Christmas' sign, and perhaps we can explore the possibility of also adding a 'Happy Holidays' sign to the display next year. "We are working aggressively to end homelessness, improve our schools, and ensure that affordable housing, health care and jobs are available to all of our residents. To be successful in these efforts, we need people of all faiths and backgrounds to work together on behalf of our community and not be divided by perceived threats to their traditions. "The foundation of our Administration has been that we, in Denver, are one community, proud of our traditions and welcoming to new ones. This time of year is a wonderful time in Denver, filled with a diverse array of traditions and events. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or simply Season's Greetings. No matter how one says it -- the message is the same -- may the season bring health and happiness to you and your families and provide ample opportunities for all of us to celebrate our blessings and help others who are less fortunate."