Breakout>> What: Twin Cities Holiday Celebration

When: Wednesday, Nov. 28

Where: Lewiston-Auburn

Parade: Begins at 6 p.m.

Other activities (all free): 4 to 7:30 p.m.

Free shuttles and parking

FMI: Dottie Perham-Whittier, 513-3121, ext. 3205; Tracey Steuber, 333-6601, ext. 1214

Anti-Claus bringing coal to L-A Santa

LEWISTON – An anti-Santa advocate is looking to make holiday festivals a key front in his war against the commercialization of Christmas.

The protester, calling himself “Belschnickle,” plans to walk the streets of Lewiston and Auburn on Wednesday night ahead of the Twin Cities Parade of Lights wearing a green Santa suit and carrying a bishop’s staff and a “Feed the Hungry” sign. He then plans to stand vigil across from Festival Plaza in a silent protest.

The protester represents a group calling itself the “Anti Santa: Love Nicholas Society.” The group began its “Resist Santa Campaign” on Friday at Portland’s tree-lighting ceremony. “Belschnickle” is also scheduled to make an appearance at Freeport’s community holiday celebration on Nov. 30.

Organizers of the Twin Cities’ holiday celebration declined to comment on the group’s protest. This is the first year Lewiston and Auburn have coordinated their holiday celebrations. The parade is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Courthouse Plaza in Lewiston, to cross Longley Bridge into Auburn and to end at Festival Plaza.

Representatives of the anti-Santa group could not be reached by telephone, but the protester identifying himself as “Belschnickle” did respond to e-mail.

“We shall NOT be approaching Santa, but if he were to come over to Belschnickle, well of course we’d be happy to hand him some coal and a small flier,” he wrote. The flier will direct people to the group’s Web site, www.aslansoc.org.

The protester defended his anonymity, saying it was traditional.

“In folklore, characters like Belschnickle, St. Nicholas, and the many mall/parade Santas themselves, do not identify themselves, but are wearing a ‘mask’ to be a character,” he wrote. “Therefore, and because this is a silent protest, we’ll be happy to answer your questions by e-mail.”

Belschnickle is one name for St. Nicholas’ Christmas Eve helpers in some German-speaking parts of the world. While St. Nicholas would bring presents to deserving children, Belschnickle would bring coal or bundles of sticks to punish naughty children.

According to a news release from the group, Santa Claus is a symbol of the commercialization of Christmas. The group claims to represent diverse political backgrounds – from fundamentalist Christians hoping to remind people of Christ to atheists tired of the shop-and-spend point of view.

“The worldwide Santa juggernaut has become very naughty, and our counterfeit Claus deserves coal for converting St. Nicholas into a pagan and taking the Glory away from Jesus Christ,” the group said in a release. “It is bizarre, and it borders on the immoral, to seclude our children into some fuzzy Santa cocoon each winter and pretend that crises like world hunger, AIDS orphans, or the genocide in Darfur have taken a holiday from their campaign of despair and destruction.”

The protester compared Belschnickle’s appearance to culture jamming and performance art.

“That is the spirit in which these events are taking place,” he wrote. “They are intended to get people, of all ages, to think about how crazy the whole Santa racket is and just whose birthday it is.”

The anti-Santa Web site is registered to a group in Scottsdale, Ariz. The group claims members from China, Czechoslovakia and Freeport, Maine.


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