City of Eureka Springs, Ark., rules nativity scene on display for 70 years may stay

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 11:59 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2022 at 4:34 PM CST
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EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. (KY3) - The city of Eureka Springs, Ark., issued a permit allowing the nativity scene in Basin Spring Park to stay.

The city notified the owner of the display, the Great Passion Play, late last week, requesting the scene be removed.

“That upset me, and I wanted to know why,” said Randall Christy, Executive Director of The Great Passion Play. “(The mayor) said, ‘there was a threat of a lawsuit, and his city attorney just advised him to have it removed.’ And you know I didn’t comply with that, and I said, ‘No, we’re not going to do that. We don’t believe that one citizen’s opinion can force us to remove a nativity that’s been here for decades.’”

The nativity scene has been a focal decoration in Basin Spring Park for more than 70 years.

KY3 has been in communication with Eureka Springs Mayor Butch Berry since the initial request. We requested an interview with Berry on Tuesday, for which no reply was given as of midday Tuesday. Berry, and the city of Eureka Springs, released a statement about the permit decision Monday.

“The city of Eureka Springs is following its philosophy of being inclusive of all people and all beliefs. We appreciate the emails and phone calls received from all over the country. And we wish everyone peace and goodwill toward all during this holiday season,” said Mayor Butch Berry

“As of right now, today, the city is saying it can stay,” said Christy. “Because they changed their mind and decided to do the right thing. You know, thousands of people literally have shared that on Facebook and made calls and emails. I think the mayor heard the voice of the people and said, ‘Look, I’m ready to fight this fight should there be one.’”

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