A group called Citizens for a Christian Christmas held a brief ceremony Thursday afternoon to dedicate a creche in front of the borough library a day after a Jewish group dedicated a Hanukkah menorah yards away.
The Rev. Jim Dever, the pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church read Bible verses as about a dozen people gathered in front of the Nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus. Organizers of the group said they wanted a Christian symbol at library point during the holiday season in which Christmas and Hanukkah are celebrated.
Earlier this month, the Haddonfield Celebrations Committee, a private group not affiliated with borough, dedicated the annual Christmas tree here, a permanent evergreen decorated for the season. A twist this year was calling it a Christmas tree instead of a holiday tree as they had in previous years.
This is the second year for the Nativity scene here. Organizers said its important to have the creche displayed at the library.
"It's a religious symbol for us," said Loula Passes, a leader of Citizens for a Christian Christmas, a group largely composed of local senior citizens. "It's a remembrance of the birth of Christ. The only criteria I would think for anybody to display anything here is respect for each other and our beliefs."
The borough solicitor and commissioners approved the creche after Passes' group filed a permit, as it had last year. Private groups can display religious symbols on public property but a municipality cannot, borough solicitor Mario Iavicoli said.
But some locals still question the display of any religious symbols on public property.
"For the life of me, I just cannot understand why these religious symbols, nativity and menorah, need to be placed on public property," a Patch reader's comment said. "I guess the large nativity scene in front of the church on Kings Highway isn't enough? Or the other nine churches in town? What’s going to happen when the 'Devil Worshipers of America' want to put an inflatable devil next to the menorah and nativity scene? Haddonfield is playing with fire here, if you ask me."