Blacktip Island’s religious factions have put aside their quarrels in time to resurrect the community’s traditional holiday light display.
“We’ve been working on a compromise for months, but the devil’s been in the details,” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians, head of the island’s Interfaith Committee.
The display historically has been a source of friction among the Caribbean island’s diverse religious groups. Formerly referred to as Christmas lights, the name was changed in hopes of avoiding a repeat of 2012’s holiday riots, Ephesians said.
“Last year the Raëlians set the tree on fire the second night it was up,” Ephesians said. “When the Catholic Defense League retaliated, things went to hell right quick.
“This year, in the spirit of ecumenical good will, we’ve done away with the physical tree completely. But we all agreed the lights by themselves were quite lovely, so we kept those.”
In the absence of a tree, the light strands have been suspended from a small remote-controlled helicopter, donated by island scuba operators, at Diddley’s Landing public pier.
“We’ll light one strand at a time, an additional strand each night, during Hanukkah, after which people will be free to view them as non-denominational Christmas lights,” Ephesians said.
The display will also serve as site of the Winter Solstice celebration December 21 and Kwanzaa December 26 through January 1.
“Atheists are welcome to view the lights however they see fit, or to ignore them altogether,” Ephesians said.