Voices From The Readers

Winterfest Reaction
Marie Fisher’s letter of last week is quite disturbing. To be affected so deeply by colored lights because of her fear of a belief system is just laughable.
Ms. Fisher, I have had it up to here with your ilk. Don’t you dare reference the First Amendment to me. I’ve read it. Twinkly lights on taxpayer-owned property, whether arranged as a row of candles or a stable, in no way constitutes the establishment of any religion. The people who own Northside Park are of all religions and ethnicities and appreciate and embrace one another.
Please don’t attach such an innocent display of lights at such a beautiful time of year. No one is asking you to believe in anything greater than yourself, should you choose not to. Neither should you be threatened by those of us who do.
The First Amendment also includes that pesky Freedom of Speech bit, so I will close by wishing everyone the most Holy and Merry of Christmases.
D. Elliott

City’s Display Not
Favoring A Religion
The “Winterfest of Lights”, an annual tradition that is, and continues to be an Ocean City tradition, and one that is available to the public during the few weeks around the holiday season, has again surfaced and been made possible because of several variables and efforts from the Town of Ocean City.
Last week a viewer had exclaimed that she was forced to feel uncomfortable at the lights event because there were some religious displays that were exhibited as part of the Winterfest tour, which in turn made her feel this way. The viewer, although mentioning that overall, she is proud of the town of Ocean City for putting forth wonderful efforts to enable this exhibit to be made possible.
I believe that the Town of Ocean City continues the annual Winterfest Lights because historically it has proven to be economically good for the town. The Winterfest of Lights display, being the festive event that it is, is collectively a light display in itself. This light display, being a conglomerate of various items related to the holiday season, may include statues, pictures and wordings that may show the presence of Christ. With such items collected and presented within the Winterfest of Lights, the Town of Ocean City is not suggesting nor reflecting any favoritism whatsoever towards any religious group at all. In retrospect, I believe that Ocean City is allowing for a multitude of many things that collectively make up what is welcomed and true to the holiday spirit regarding what the Winterfest of Lights represents.  When one chooses to attend the holiday lights display here in Ocean City, the “fest experience” in my opinion is all about the overall sightings of all that is available and pronounced at the exhibit. Any items that might be in place and resemble any type of religious forum, I believe is a part of the “global exhibit” and in no way necessarily reflects the beliefs of anyone related to the Town of Ocean City.
With the Dec. 6th edition of the newspaper publishing that the opinion of the concerned person submitted their thoughts onto the Mayor and City Council of Ocean City, I forward my thoughts onto these individuals accordingly as well.
Douglas Antos
Ocean City

Parade Says Thanks
This is a letter of thanks to all those who helped to make the 31st Annual Ocean City Christmas Parade such a success.
There are many fine community parades here on the shore. The officials of those parades I’m sure echo my thanks to all the people who donate their time to make sure these parades run smoothly and provide entertainment and the seasonal spirit to all those observing the parades.
I would like to thank everyone from the Public Works Department, who provides us with the judge’s stand, bleachers and the P.A. system. A special thanks to the Ocean City Police Department for its work in seeing that the traffic runs smoothly on Coastal Highway when the parade is taking place.
A special thanks goes out to Doug Cymek and his volunteers who coordinate the line-up, start the parade and see that it flows smoothly. This is no easy task believe me. Thanks to Milton Warren at Delmarva Two-Way Radio who has graciously provided us with use of his radios during the parade.
Thanks go out to Hitman for being our MC this year. The Christmas parade is a professionally judged parade. Thank you to the National Judges Association for sending three talented professional judges.
I thank the Gold Coast Mall Merchants Association for its continued support and for providing all the funds for this parade. I thank the community and news media for its interest and involvement. All this blends together into an enjoyable first Saturday in December in the resort when all enjoy the Ocean City Christmas Parade.
Elaine V. Jarvis
Ocean City
(The writer is the parade coordinator.)

Saluting The Colonel
On Sunday, Dec. 8, there was a memorial service at the First Presbyterian Church to honor a World War II veteran and good friend: Colonel Robert Brenner, Jr.
Many people in this town probably have met Bob at some time in their lives. I met him at the Post Office one day when he was getting his wheelchair out of his car. I offered to help and from that first meeting we met often at the Post Office and spent a lot of time talking and overtime became close friends. I told Bob about our “Tea Party” trips to Washington to have our voices heard. He was interested but was concerned because he needed his wheelchair to get around. I let him know that I would push him around wherever we went. It turned out to be a benefit for me because every rally we went too we got right up to the front row. All I needed to do was call out “make way for the Colonel”. Everyone would step aside and let us through. All the speakers, after finishing their presentation, would come over to Bob and shake his hand. I, of course, had the good fortune to get up close to some very special people.
The best event, however, was our rally on Sept. 12, 2009. There were over two million people in attendance. By the time our bus arrived, there was already over one million people present. We were some distance from the center stage and Bob, with his World War II Veterans cap on and my sign in his lap, had the opportunity to meet many people. Many came up to him, with their grandchildren, and wanted to know about certain battles where they had lost loved ones. 
Since Bob had been in every battle in Europe, he could tell then in detail what had happened. Before long both Bob and the person who asked would be crying. Afterwards, they would shake his hand and thank him for his service and information. Those that had a grandchild with them the grandchild would also shake his and thank him for his service. You could see the joy in Bob’s eyes.
Bob, you’ll be surely missed but never forgotten. Those of us who have known you knew we were in the presence of a patriot and good person who served our country with honor and continued to serve thoughout his life worthy causes. Surely if there is a God and a Heaven you will be rewarded with a very special place of honor. I know you’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
Rest in peace my friend.
Paul St. Andre
Ocean City

Winterfest Support
I would like to respond to the letter from Marie Fisher in last Friday’s publication. While, on balance, she seemed to appreciate our city’s Winterfest of Lights festival, she expressed her displeasure over the religious displays included in the Festival. She cites the US Constitution’s First Amendment Establishment Clause as the reason those displays should not be included and suggests that their inclusion is the Mayor and City Council’s as well as the Ocean City Department of Parks and Recreation’s attempt to favor particular religious beliefs (translated Christian) over any other religious belief. 
In her mind, all Winterfest displays should be secular in nature. Fair enough, as Ms. Fisher is certainly entitled to her opinion. However, there is another part to the Establishment Clause – the right to free exercise of one’s religious beliefs. The clause in its totality forbade Congress to establish a “national” religion and also forbade it from excluding the practice of any particular religion.
I would suggest to Ms. Fisher and those who share her feelings to not go to Winterfest if any one of its displays may insult them in any way or if they absolutely must go, but don’t like the religious displays, ignore them.
To our Mayor, City Council and the Ocean City Department of Parks and Recreation, keep all the displays as they are, period. From someone who grew up in the Washington DC area and spent a 30-year career there, I suggest the “inside the Beltway mentality” be kept inside the Beltway and not brought to Ocean City.
Gail Schuler
Ocean City

Ministry Needs Help
On Nov. 26, 2013, the tragic fire at Saint Paul’s by-the-Sea and the Shepherd’s Crook Food Pantry took the life of one of our spiritual leaders, Father David Dingwall. We lost a true friend and advocate for the Noel Community. Father Dingwall was enthusiastic and determined to provide assistance to all people in need. He will be missed by the Noel Community and those we will continue to serve.
Due to the damage from the fire, the planning committee volunteers have been brainstorming ideas for the most effective way to provide much needed food for Christmas. Shepherd’s Crook was destroyed. The kitchen and parish hall are not in service and will require extensive restoration. In addition to planning for Christmas, the volunteers are focused on making arrangements to immediately continue our year round weekly lunches and non-perishable food distributions with minimal disruptions.
Please be assured any donations already received will be used to provide food and other necessary items to families and individuals who may be homeless, unemployed, underemployed, shut-in, or alone during the holidays and throughout the year.
Checks made payable to The Noel Community can be mailed c/o St. Paul’s by-the-Sea to 302 North Baltimore Avenue in Ocean City MD, 21842. 
The Noel Community appreciates your support over the past 15 years. We believe that Father David would want us to proceed with the 16th Annual Noel Community dinner on Dec, 25, 2013. The members of the Noel Community are working so his ministry will be honored. We hope you will help us again this year. 
The Noel Community
Ocean City

‘Merry Christmas’
Isn’t it enough that Ocean City succumbed to the pressures of political correctness and chose to call a magnificent display of the Christmas holiday, the Winterfest of Lights festival?
It is Christmastime and if the very meaning of Christmas offends Ms. Fisher, might I suggest that she does not visit Northside park during this time?
I, for one, am still apt to wish friends and shop keepers and anyone else in my path a Merry Christmas, rather than Happy Holiday. It is my holiday and I’m not going underground for anyone.
M.M. McSweeney
Ocean City