Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 29, 2012

Volunteers, supporters saved our tradition

The Nativity and Tree display in downtown Cumberland is right where it should be for the third consecutive year now because of the efforts of a small committee of volunteers and a host of passionate supporters!

From sometime in the 1920s until the 2009-2010 season, this display was sponsored by the city of Cumberland. The annual tree-lighting ceremony was held there at Washington and Greene streets until around 1980, when it was relocated to the corner of Baltimore and Liberty streets.

The role of Emmanuel Episcopal Church throughout the years has been to grant permission to use their grounds. The church has the Nativity scene captured in a photograph dated 1932 and on a commemorative plate dated 1952.

Christmas 2009 was a time of controversy. In Chambersburg, Pa., there was a 20-year tradition of a private garden club owning a Nativity scene which volunteers erected at the fountain in the town square in front of the courthouse.

When an atheist group asked for permission to erect a sign celebrating the solstice, the borough council denied that request and ordered the immediate dismantling of the Nativity scene erected one week earlier.

A petition was launched and a protest march drew over 200, but the end result was the relocation of the Nativity scene across the square to the grounds of the Presbyterian Church.

In Chambersburg, the controversy was over a private group erecting a religious display on public property.

The case was the reverse in Cumberland. Here, the 80-year-old tradition involved a religious display owned by the Mayor and City Council, stored in a city warehouse, and erected by city employees on the grounds of a church.

At a time when the city was devastated by severe cuts in state funding, two individuals threatened to sue the city over the tradition.

The former city administrator announced to Parks and Recreation staff in December 2009 that when they dismantled the display in January 2010, the tradition would end.

That’s when our “Cumberland Nativity and Tree Display Committee” was formed. Gary Bartik, Greg Getty, Rueben Lease, Ed Mullaney, and I joined together and formulated two goals: 1) to see that the tradition continued; and 2) to do so quietly without community controversy.

Our efforts last year were supported by 49 different donors, including 31 from Cumberland; four from LaVale; three from Ridgeley, W.Va.; and one each from Cresaptown; Frostburg; McCoole; Bloomington; McHenry; Friendsville; Fort Ashby, W.Va.; Winchester, Va.; Haymarket Va.; Dillsburg, Pa.;, and Jacksonville, Fla.; most coming with Christmas cards and encouraging notes!

We have a federal Employer Identification and a business checking account. We have raised $6,040 in donations and had $5,227.61 in total expenses last year.

We begin this season with a fund balance of $812.39, which is more than enough to pay the electric bills for several seasons yet to come. However, we would like to raise funds for repairs and improvements.

For example, last year’s biggest expense was $3,435.07 for new C9-LED lights (2,000 bulbs!), and $900 for Earth & Tree of Frostburg to prune the large pine tree and string the new lights — at half cost as their contribution.

Any individual or business or civic group who would like to contribute towards our efforts may do so by making a check payable to “Cumberland Nativity & Tree Committee,” and mail it to 101 Oak Street, Cumberland, Maryland 21502. All donors receive a receipt and a detailed financial report at the end of the season.

The kind of community spirit displayed in the generous support of this old tradition is truly something to celebrate!

Michael Mudge

Cumberland

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?

    Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.

    April 17, 2014

  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Translations differ, but the message is eternal

    This letter is in response to a recent letter titled “One cannot compromise on God’s word” (April 13 Times-News). I had previously written a letter titled “Why are compromises so difficult to achieve” (April 7).

    April 15, 2014

  • Closing the loopholes will help clear the regulatory waters

    After a decade of uncertainty over Clean Water Act jurisdiction following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced a forthcoming administrative rule to close enforcement loopholes, restoring protections to 20 million acres of wetlands, more than half the nation’s streams, and drinking water for 117 million Americans.

    April 15, 2014

  • The first step Remember where your freedom comes from before criticizing

    The deal at Fort Hood could have been avoided if it was caught in time.
    When you think a GI is not acting right, have him or her checked out before you put them back on duty and give them a weapon. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious and dangerous problem if it is not taken care of right away.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Midterm elections give chance to return to American values

    A movement has been started by veterans of our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014. That includes Coast Guard and Merchant Marine personnel for those not familiar with the history of both and their sacrifice. This is no small special interest  group, but many millions of Americans who can have an enormous impact on the  outcome of the November election if they all respond.

    April 14, 2014

  • Speed cameras Speed cameras

    We’ve never been big fans of speed cameras, primarily for two reasons. First, because the cameras are not always accurate, and secondly because many jurisdictions seem to create revenue by installing cameras and issuing high numbers of speeding tickets.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Group wants status quo on Sunday hunting

    Many Maryland residents have grown very concerned about two legislative bills that are arriving on the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley after being approved by both the Senate and House chambers this session. With the governor’s possible signature of these bills into law, hunting would be allowed on certain state lands on Sundays — a day in the past reserved for rest and non-hunters to enjoy public lands.

    April 10, 2014