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Small Town Tries To Protect Easter Tradition From The Feds

REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter
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A Pennsylvania small town may have to end a decades long tradition of lighting an Easter cross, because the government now owns the land it stands on.

Milford citizens are looking for ways to preserve their tradition, since the National Parks Service (NPS) took over the land in 2015, reports WNEP.

The Easter cross, which also doubles as a Christmas star, sits atop a cliff called the Knob that overlooks the entire town. A local club takes care of the Easter cross and operates it during the holidays. The Lions Club applied for two separate permits to operate the star and cross since the NPS now owns the land.

The group received permission to light the star, club president Jeffrey Phillips said, but after an official “said he couldn’t sign” the permit for the cross, the group withdrew their application out of fear the NPS would take away their permit to light the star as well. Phillips said the decision comes in light of other obstacles the club has faced in trying to keep the cross going.

“They’ve taken our lock off the gate and installed their own, and put ditches across the road from the entrance,” Phillips said. “Most of our members are older now, or retired too. It just made it very difficult. We’ll have to find someplace else to put it.”

Other Milford residents hope the cross remains, saying it brings peace during the holiday season.

“It just is peaceful,” said Susan Fontaine of Dingman Township. “I don’t understand why anyone would want to take it down. It’s been part of this community for a long time and I don’t know anyone that complains about it. It’s Milford. To take it away would be very sad.”

Milford Mayor Sean Strub said they are trying to find ways to keep the tradition going. He also reiterated that the NPS never denied the group a permit. “From the NPS perspective, no permit was denied and there is no current open issue with them,” Strub said in an email.

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