Light Up Dunwoody to Leave Farmhouse

Light Up Dunwoody to Leave Farmhouse

David R. Cohen

David R. Cohen is the former Associate Editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times. He is originally from Marietta, GA and studied Journalism at the University of Tennessee.

Light Up Dunwoody, an annual holiday event held at the Spruill Farmhouse, will move this year after the trust that owns the farmhouse decided to ban religious symbols. 

Facing a request from the sponsor of Light Up Dunwoody to add a 6-foot menorah to the event’s Christmas tree, the Dunwoody Preservation Trust issued this statement Wednesday, Oct. 14:

“The mission of DPT is historic preservation and is inclusive of all members of our community. To avoid exclusivity, the DPT Board of Directors has voted to disallow all non-secular symbols on the grounds of the Cheek-Spruill property. Because some holiday symbols are open for individual interpretation, we respectfully request that DHA move the tree to another location.”

Rather than hold the event without the 35-foot Christmas tree or the menorah, the Dunwoody Homeowners Association has decided to move Light Up Dunwoody.

“The DHA got together over the weekend, and what we concluded was that if the menorah was not welcome, we needed to find another place for our Christmas tree,” Dunwoody Homeowners Association President Robert Wittenstein said in an interview.

Light Up Dunwoody in 2014
Light Up Dunwoody in 2014

Both the Christmas tree and menorah are paid for by the homeowners association.

This is the second consecutive year that the DHA asked to add a large menorah to the festivities. Last year, Wittenstein said, “the bottom line was that we approached them way too late. This year we contacted them many weeks ahead of time, but when I met with the two co-presidents of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust a few weeks ago, they gave me the impression they didn’t feel comfortable putting up the menorah.”

The trust’s board of directors discussed the issue at its regularly scheduled board meeting Tuesday, Oct. 13, and decided to ban all religious symbols. For a full statement from the trust click here.

Since 1996, Light Up Dunwoody has brought the Dunwoody community together to welcome the holiday season. The Dunwoody Preservation Trust has hosted the event since 2009. It has included a Christmas tree each year, and the past two years the trust has allowed a small lighted menorah to be placed in an upstairs window at the Spruill Farmhouse.

Festivities at Light Up Dunwoody were planned to include dance troupe performances, a singalong with Christmas and Chanukah songs, and photo opportunities with Santa.

The event is still scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 22.

“We are deeply disappointed,” said Wittenstein, a member of Temple Emanu-El. “It is certainly their property, and they can do what they want with it. Our decision is that we are going to move the tree to a place where the menorah is welcome, and we’re going to move the Light Up Dunwoody celebration.”

This is a developing story. Return to this page for updates. 

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