Less than a week after announcing plans to move Light Up Dunwoody in response to a ban on religious symbols, the Dunwoody Homeowners Association has decided that it will keep the annual celebration at the Spruill Farmhouse.
Religious symbols are still banned from the event by the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, which owns the farmhouse, but the DHA will move its 35-foot-tall Christmas tree and 6-foot-tall menorah across the street from the farmhouse, in front of the Dunwoody Animal Hospital.
Santa Claus and reindeer will still be part of the DHA’s programming. The Preservation Trust views those only as cultural symbols.
“Santa and reindeer are secular traditions of Christmas and not religious symbols,” said Kathy Florence, the communications vice president for the trust. “The policy that we have created is that we will not display nonsecular symbols on the lawn of the farmhouse. The fact that Santa Claus and reindeer will be there, that’s completely the program of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association. We are only the venue for the event.”
Homeowners Association President Robert Wittenstein said the organization’s board met Sunday, Oct. 18, and reached a decision that rather than find a new location, the event will return to the Spruill Farmhouse, where it has been held since 2009.
“The DHA board has decided to accept the DPT invitation to continue to host Light Up Dunwoody at the farmhouse,” he said. “We are glad we could work something out and still be inclusive to everyone, and we appreciate the trust’s willingness to work through this and remain partners.”
Controversy arose this month when the trust refused a Homeowners Association request to add a large menorah to Light Up Dunwoody, which has included a Christmas tree every year since 1996.
A small lighted menorah has been placed in an upstairs window of the Spruil farmhouse the past two years.
When the trust’s board met to discuss the issue Oct. 13, it decided to ban all religious symbols, including the Christmas tree, rather than just the menorah.
In response, the Dunwoody Homeowners Association initially said it would move the event to another location.
Festivities at Light Up Dunwoody are planned to include dance troupe performances, a singalong with Christmas and Chanukah songs, and photo opportunities with Santa.
The event is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 22.