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Controversy continues over Leesburg Christmas display

Friday - 11/9/2012, 2:57pm  ET

Santa_crucifix.jpg
One of the first displays on the lawn of the Loudoun County courthouse last year was a skeleton dressed as Santa Claus hanging from a crucifix. (Courtesy of Ken Reid)

WASHINGTON - It is not even up yet, but people are talking about the holiday display outside the courthouse in downtown Leesburg.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors decided this year's county-sponsored holiday display will include a crèche, menorah, Christmas tree, Santa and his sleigh and an area for the group called American Atheists.

The display will cost taxpayer's $3,400.

Residents have mixed reactions about the display, some saying that it should be outside a house of worship, while others think the scene fosters a sense of community.

In the past few years, Loudoun County has received numerous complaints about religious displays during the holidays. The Board of Supervisors instituted an application process to place a limit of nine displays in the area.

Last year, a skeleton dressed as a Santa Claus hanging from a crucifix was one of the first displays outside the courthouse. The skeleton prompted outrage and was defaced before a woman took it down.

"This is the most disgusting and reprehensible thing that any of these groups has done on the courthouse lawn," Leesburg councilman and supervisor-elect Ken Reid said at the time.

Besides holiday displays, the town has struggled with what to call its seasonal parade. Last October, the Leesburg Town Council voted to change the name of the parade from "Holiday Parade" to "Christmas and Holiday Parade."

The person who requested the name change also requested the council change the name of the "Holiday Tree Lighting" event to "Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting."

WTOP's Neal Augenstein contributed to this report. Follow Neal Augenstein and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)