ELLWOOD CITY (KDKA) — When the lights flicked on outside of Ellwood City Hall on Friday night for Light Up Night, the nativity scene that sat there for 55 years was noticeable absent.
Those who grew up seeing it say it is missed.
“It’s all I remember,” said John Barton, of Ellwood City. “Since I’ve been a kid, it’s been sitting up over there.”
Hundreds filled the Ellwood City streets to celebrate the yearly tradition of Light Up Night.
The tradition is a little different though with the nativity scene that started a now two-year long battle with an anti-religious group in Wisconsin who threatened to take Ellwood City to court if the display wasn’t moved from government property.
“The group’s tried to change the location of the nativity, but they can’t change our hearts,” Ellwood City resident Dom Viccari said.
And judging by the reaction of the faith-based community on Light Up Night, their hearts are hurt.
“It’s impacted all of us, you know,” added Kathy Smith, another Ellwood City resident. “It’s been here forever, it should have stayed here.”
“That’s our nativity scene, it’s not theirs; and they shouldn’t have the right to come in and tell us what to do in our town,” said Peri Malcolm, a local resident.
Ellwood City Mayor Anthony Court agrees, but says even though the group was successful in moving the religious symbol of Christmas; it did not take the community’s spirit.
“This resilient group, which our community is, they bonded together and they are not going to be denied,” Mayor Court said.
The nativity scene is still being displayed off of city property; ironically, in front of an old Catholic church now owned by one of the area attorneys who is will to go to court for the city.
“Where it goes it one thing, but the belief in it, the faith in it and how the community comes together with those values is what is really important and that’s really the tradition,” attorney Joe Bellissimo said.
This year, the nativity scene will be unveiled at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Meanwhile, people in the community say they are taking steps to make sure that they get a nativity scene outside of City Hall this year.
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