The controversial nativity scene found a new home Friday afternoon on private property in front of the Rehoboth Avenue Grotto Pizza.
The placement of the nativity scene has garnered the city a lot of attention since the Dec. 2 Community Unity Dinner, when the Rev. William Cocco of St. Edmond Catholic Church and church parishioner Patty Derrick approached Mayor Paul Kuhns and City Manager Sharon Lynn about putting up the nativity near the bandstand. A couple of days later, and after the church says it contacted local representatives from other houses of worship, St. Edmond parishioners installed the creche near the Christmas tree on Rehoboth Avenue.
During a meeting at city hall Dec. 5, Kuhns and Lynn were informed of the installation. By noon, Dec. 6, it had been removed. During a special meeting Dec. 7, four dozen parishioners and Cocco showed up to show their disapproval of the city’s decision.
Cocco and the other parishioners continued to look for a home. Derrick said more than 15 Rehoboth Avenue businesses had reached out to her offering space on private property. The Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce also offered land in front of the the chamber’s new Rehoboth Avenue home.
From the beginning, Kuhns said the city wanted to avoid appearing to promote one set of religious beliefs over another. Looking to next year, Kuhns said perhaps there can be a plan set forth early enough so that all religions can be included.
A similar nativity scene adorns The Circle in Georgetown. Mayor Bill West said Georgetown Wesleyan Church applied for a permit to display the creche.
“Anyone is able to apply for a permit to display in The Circle,” West said. “We’ve had no complaints about the nativity scene.”
West said he was elected in 2014, and the creche has been displayed every year since then, and for years beforehand as well.