It was a scene like no other witnessed in the long history of events on The Circle in downtown Georgetown.
At 6 p.m., Dec. 21, on one side of The Circle, hundreds gathered for the Good Ole Boy Foundation living nativity. With an angel looking down from above, Christmas songs and carols filled the air. It was one the largest crowds so far for the living nativity, which will take place each night through Christmas Eve.
On the other side of The Circle, the First State Satanists, some dressed in black robes and masks, burned incense and lit candles in observance of the winter solstice. People stopped by to take photos of the small group, while others raised their arms in prayer. A couple stopped on the sidewalk across from The Circle to blow two large animal horns, a symbolic gesture celebrated by Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus and by Pagans to expel evil spirits.
A seemingly endless stream of vehicles traveled around The Circle throughout the two-hour event. And to make it complete, Santa Claus made a surprise visit.
K.C. Conaway, one of the Good Ole Boy Foundation organizers, said, “We have one voice and one mission – to celebrate the birth of Jesus. This is the power of we, not me. This is more than about a manger, this is going to be something much bigger. This is what God’s plan is.”
Good Ole Boy Foundation member Josh Wharton said while they may not agree with the Satanists group’s methods, the foundation supports their right to be on The Circle. “I’m glad it’s been a peaceful night here. We had an outstanding showing on our side of The Circle. This shows we can have people with differing opinions in the same vicinity, and we can get along,” he said.
First State Satanists spokesman Joseph Cloughly said although he’s not a religious person, he still likes the holiday. “Driving through Rehoboth Beach, we saw all the stores decked out in Christmas lights,” he said. “What would it be like if there were Jewish holiday lights and Islamic holiday lights? I want to see all kinds of decorations everywhere in the spirit of bringing the community together.”
The foundation spearheaded an effort, with support from local churches, to stage a living nativity when Georgetown officials adopted a policy prohibiting unattended private displays on The Circle. Georgetown Wesleyan Church was denied its request to place a nativity scene on The Circle, something it had done for several years, because it would have been left unattended.