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Leesburg Council reverses 'war on Christmas'

Monday - 10/17/2011, 6:04am  ET

Max Smith, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Should it be "Merry Christmas," or "Happy Holidays"? A local government is weighing in with a reversal of the so-called "war on Christmas."

The Leesburg Town Council has voted to change the name of what used to be known as the town's "Holiday Parade." It will now be known as the "Christmas and Holiday Parade."

"The parade takes place because of the Christmas season. To eliminate or expunge the name of Christmas solely for its religious reasons seems fundamentally unjust to me," Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd says.

She supported the measure and says most of the responses she's gotten in the week or so since it passed have been positive, although there are always detractors.

"There are folks who don't believe in God who would prefer to have the word 'Christmas' just taken out of every function that government has anything to do with, but we have the Christmas holiday, it's a federal holiday, a state-sanctioned holiday," she says.

The Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg has been the focus of fights over "holiday" versus "Christmas" in the last few years, something Umstattd says contributed to this change.

The person who requested the name change is the same person who asked the council last year to change the name of the "Holiday Tree Lighting." It's now known as the "Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting." He lives in Lansdowne, which is outside the town's limits but within the county.

After the county banned all displays at the courthouse back in 2009, it now accepts applications for any type of holiday display to be put up there on a first-come, first-served basis.

"We can accept other cultures and other religions, but I don't think accepting other viewpoints means eliminating something that has been part of the American fabric since (the country) began," Umstattd says.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)