Source: St. Petersburg Times
On November 10, 2000, the St. Petersburg Times reported that "Employees have been directed to eliminate all workplace holiday displays, decorations and celebrations. That means no Christmas trees, figures of Santa Claus or any item with a 'religious holiday connotation.' The new rules, which came as a surprise to the city administrator and chief assistant city attorney, are isolated to the Police Department. And the mandate has sparked a firestorm. Officers and employees are asking: If a Christmas tree can go up in the city's Straub Park, why can't a tree stand in the lobby of the station? After all, the city's Fire Department and the offices of the mayor and City Council will put up Christmas trees." Many people are questioning how far this mandate will go and whether it is legitimate. "In some states, creches and crosses have been removed from downtown Christmas and Easter displays. But trees and Santa Claus are different. 'Christmas trees have never been considered religious symbols, and that's why a lot of government agencies do display them,' Benen said. 'That's why there's one at the White House.'"