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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Holmes Beach holiday decorations OK

A legal review of the holiday decorations used by Holmes Beach during the Christmas season has determined that they do not violate the U.S. Constitution.

That issue was presented by city resident Albert Ames to the commission Sept. 28, when he claimed the decorations were "too Christian" and violated the U.S. Constitution. To help settle the issue, commissioners asked City Attorney Patricia Petruff to look into the issue.

No violation, said a review by Richard Groff of the law firm of Dye, Deitrich and Prather, of which Petruff is a member.

The decorations pass the "lemon test," which is used by judges and legal organizations to determine if holiday decorations are too religious, Groff said.

The review said the holiday banners in Holmes Beach "are secular and contain no religious symbolism" and "do not advance or inhibit religion in general or any particular religion.

"The banners as described do not violate the U.S. Constitution," concluded Groff.