'Festivus' pole in Delray Beach meant to signify country in distress

Pole includes upside down American flag
Posted at 7:52 PM, Dec 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-06 20:04:52-05

A TV show about nothing left a legacy that’s going to the extreme in Delray Beach. Seinfeld invented the holiday “Festivus,” complete with its own symbol: an aluminum pole.

If a city allows one holiday display, it has to allow them all, right? That’s how a Palm Beach County man has gained approval the past three years to put up a Festivus pole next to Delray Beach’s 100 feet Christmas Tree, nativity scene and menorah.

“It’s the perfect freedom of expression,” said Chaz Stevens with the Religious Liberty Project.

His Festivus pole this year is getting attention for its symbolism.

This year, Stevens and Tom Wright wrapped the pole in an upside down American flag. That signifies distress. They pinned a Make America Great Again hat to the top in a nod to President-elect Donald Trump. And included a giant safety pin, a sign English are using to show support for minorities.

Stevens, an atheist, argues the election of Trump has put the country in distress, particularly for minorities.

“He called them rapists, he wants to give a religious test,” Stevens said. “All that crazy stuff that we saw through the entire campaign doesn’t seem to be getting any better.”

So far city leaders tell NewsChannel 5 they haven’t received any formal complaints about the the pole and its symbolism. But several people said they don’t believe the holiday gathering spot is the right place for such a political statement.

“This is a festival, we have the tree, Santa comes, with have the manger, so this [pole] shouldn’t be here,” said Deena Chapman, who volunteers at the Christmas Tree.

She said no visitor has asked her about the Festivus pole since it went up Monday.

“The Festivus aspect of it I think is quite acceptable,” said Laura Clancy, a visitor. “The political aspect of it I think has no place with a traditional holiday.”

Stevens installed a similar pole in Deerfield Beach. He said the city has received so many complaints about it, the city manager has asked Stevens to remove the flag portion of his display.

For those who believe the pole is in the wrong location, Wright argued the message will have a greater impact if it’s somewhere people least expect it.

“While they’re here, they’re going to see a Donald Trump “distressivus” pole and scratch their heads a little bit and at least it gets them thinking,” Wright said.

He and Stevens both agree the goal is to get the public thinking about the country’s future and their freedom to speech.