CARBONDALE -- People in Carbondale have noticed that part of the city's holiday display is missing
A nativity scene that's sat across from City Hall for years has been moved because city officials feared they would be sued.
Over the past few days, folks in Carbondale have been questioning City Hall about the missing manger scene. It's not in its normal spot in Memorial Park because of a letter the city received last Christmas.
The famous stable in Bethlehem is now in a different part of Carbondale. You can see Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus outside the YMCA along Main Street, a few blocks away from its traditional location.
It was in Memorial Park across the street from City Hall for about a decade, but Mayor Justin Taylor says the city was forced to move it.
"It's just a bad situation, and it comes at a time that's supposed to be festive and joyous for everyone to enjoy. Now, everyone has this like, cloud, over them," the mayor said.
It all stems from a letter the city received around last Christmas from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The nonprofit shared case law showing that a city-sponsored nativity scene is a violation of the first amendment.
Mayor Taylor says he feared a lawsuit.
"Once letters start being sent back and forth and briefs are filed, that's $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 before you know it, that's money the city doesn't have."
The nativity was donated to Memorial Park about a decade ago. Now, because of the letter, Carbondale has donated the display to the YMCA. As a private organization, the "Y" can have a religious display.
"It should be back in the park. That's where it was. That's where it belongs, but as long as it's still in the area, I'd rather it be here," said Jennifer
Some were happy to see the compromise, and others wished there was never a controversy to begin with.
"I think it's important to have that, and I don't think it's OK to take it from children either, you know? Something that they can learn from," Amber Peer said.
Carbondale's mayor says the nativity scene could return to Memorial Park if private citizens made a display that included symbols from other religions, but he says the city is staying out of it.