Not So Jolly: Loudoun Reins In Its Holiday Display

December 1, 2009

Author: Derek Kravitz

Source: The Washington Post

Carrying coal and wearing Christmas red, dozens of Loudoun residents stormed into a county meeting Monday night to protest a new policy barring structures, religious or otherwise, from the lawn of the century-old courthouse in Leesburg. The county's new rule, residents say, is a big-time Scrooge -- one that could kill the community's holiday spirit.

The rule, enacted last week by a resident-led committee, bans displays from the courthouse. Residents say it does little but push out family-friendly holiday displays, such as the decorated Christmas tree that has been a fixture in front of the 19th-century brick courthouse for almost 50 years. During Leesburg's annual holiday parade, Santa Claus greets children on the lawn, which has served as Loudoun's public square and a popular meeting place for civic groups, churches and schools.

But Loudoun has a policy banning structures on public property, and, last week, the nine-person residents' committee that handles issues related to grounds and facilities unanimously approved a similar policy for the courthouse.