• New Hampshire town considering axing Christmas tree display


    DURHAM, N.H. - A long-standing holiday tradition in a New Hampshire town may be in its final year.

    It's been just three days since Durham's annual holiday tree lighting, but this year may have been the tree's final time to shine. Town leaders say they're not trying to cancel Christmas, they're simply trying to be fair. 

    "It's a hard conversation, tradition is hard to change, but it's a fair conversation to have and I'm not sure where we will end up," said town administrator Todd Selig. 

    It started when town administrators denied a permit from the Jewish Center to place a menorah, citing issues of safety and inclusion. 

    "As you can see in Memorial Park there's very limited space, and that gets the town into sort of dictating who gets the premier location, how long is everybody here, how do we manage that?" said Selig. 

    The rabbi at the Jewish Center lit the menorah in another town park, but it prompted concerns about religious symbols on public land using public resources.

    "Either we should allow everybody or nobody," said Selig. 

    Kitty Marple is on the Human Rights Commission that recommended the town stop decorating a holiday tree, but now she's having second thoughts.

    "I think the idea of a tree is lovely, I don't necessarily want to get rid of it or anything," said Marple. "It's clear today on Facebook a lot of people are very upset about this."

    Comments on the Durham town page range from "this is stupid" to "leave the tradition alone."

    Residents say the tree isn't about religion, but about their community coming together and the rabbi agrees, saying there is room for everyone. 

    "We're hoping for next year, not only a menorah, everything should be up there. Everything should be public," he said.

    Much is still up for debate for next year's holidays, including the idea of having a winter festival with a variety of lights and decorations. 

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