Easter Tradition in Honesdale May Come to End

HONESDALE, Pa. -- As Christians get ready to celebrate Easter, for the first time in decades, a longtime religious tradition in Wayne County may not happen.

We first told you in October about the letter asking Honesdale to move the cross that's lit on Irving Cliff every Easter season or stop lighting it.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation claims it violates the Constitution because it's on borough property and now, it appears as though the cross that's been lit for 60 some years may not shine next week.

Last year may have been the last to see the lit cross atop Irving Cliff. The cross that's been lit practically every Holy Week since the mid-1950s could stay dark.

After the Freedom From Religion Foundation requested Honesdale stop lighting the cross on public land, borough leaders say they have no intention of sparking a potentially costly lawsuit.

"Honesdale will lose something very precious if the cross is not lit," Sara Rennekamp said.

There has been public outcry in support of the cross since last fall and a grassroots effort to find a solution has kept any possible plans under wraps.

"I believe that tradition should remain tradition. (It's a) small town, and everyone knows each other, so why not keep it the same way it's always been," said Honesdale resident Anthony Delva.

When that controversy erupted in the fall in Honesdale, business and homeowners started putting displays in front of their places and the question now is, will the cross be lit starting next week?

"We still love Honesdale even if there's still no cross, yeah, something important will be lost," Rennekamp said.

Gained in all this, however, are more signs of the season including at the end of Main Street on private property -- a cross, roughly 10 feet tall and wrapped in lights.

Many have taken notice.

"I think that people especially don't like being told they can't follow their own traditions," Karissa Kreidler said. "We just have to celebrate our traditions in other spaces, right at the end of Main Street is perfect."

The Greater Honesdale Partnership has paid for the cross to be lit in the past this year. Its president tells Newswatch 16 it's out of the organization's hands.

Also, the borough did light the star this past Christmas season which was mentioned in that letter as well, but only after naming it for Dick Smith, the man who wrote the lyrics to "Winter Wonderland."  Smith was a Honesdale native.

36 comments

  • fortisveritas

    Population of the USA: >300,000,000. Membership of the FFRF: >30,000.

    Do the math.

    The FFRF is an insignificant speck of a fringe hate group that disguises themselves as a civil rights group. They are bullies that prey upon those with no fortitude or convictions. 🇺🇸

  • fortisveritas

    The Freedom From Religion Foundation is based in Madison, Wisconsin and it has ‘over 30,000 members’ according to its web site. First of all – people need to educate themselves with the Constitution. Nowhere does it state ‘separation of church and state’. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. It promotes religious liberty. Honesdale needs to ignore the FFRF and ensure that no tax dollars support the cross. The FFRF is another bullying group that threatens and attempts to intimidate the unitiated and weak elected officials. Supporters of the cross need to stand their ground and prepare for a fight if needed. Start a GoFundMe page for financial support. Contact the Rutherford Institute for legal counsel if needed. This isn’t about promoting one faith over another, it’s about a minority group of people that don’t want anyone else to believe in something they don’t believe in. If you’re a Buddhist, does seeing a Star of David make you want to become a Jew? If you’re a non-smoker, does a cigarette advert make you want to start smoking? 🇺🇸

  • savescrantonhistory

    The simplest solution is if it’s public land, make it so it is no longer public land but remains with a sympathetic citizen who will allow the display to continue.

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