The spirit of Halloween at Christmas
By Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY Fri Dec 16, 7:03 AM ET
The Christmas display in front of Joel Krupnik's Manhattan brownstone has all the subtlety of a blood-splattered Santa.
Which, in fact, is what it is.
"It's horrible, just terrible," says neighbor Joe Nuccio, 79. "He's got Santa Claus with a bloody knife in one hand and a doll's head suspended in the other. That's bloody, too."
Bloody awful, for sure. But Krupnik, who couldn't be reached Thursday, told the Associated Press it's all to make this point: Christmas has become too commercial. Others have made similar points in Orlando (a gutted Rudolph dangling from a tree) and Miami (a hanged St. Nick).
And they've received similar reviews.
Estelle Farnsworth was so upset by the life-size Santa strung up in her Miami neighborhood that she called police. Santa's hands were bound behind his back, his feet were tied together, and a noose was around his neck.
Have yourself a gory little Christmas, it seemed to say.
"I was absolutely furious," says Farnsworth, 65. "Everybody was upset."
A little girl in the neighborhood thought Santa had morphed into Satan and was going to get her, Farnsworth says.
Police told Farnsworth that desecrating Santa might be in poor taste but that it was constitutionally protected expression.
Like Krupnik, the neighbor who staged Santa's mock execution wanted to express his dismay with the commercialization of the season, Farnsworth says.
Point taken, she says. But she believes it could have been done more tastefully.
"Why not put up a beautiful manger scene? He could have put up a sign on it that said, 'This is the reason for the season of Christmas,' " she says. "Instead, he just lynched Santa Claus."
Santa, mercifully, has been taken down in Miami, and Farnsworth's neighborhood has returned to normal.
"It's very well decorated now," she says.
Not so in Nuccio's neighborhood. Santa still leers at passersby, and Krupnik has a tree "decorated" with the heads of Barbie dolls.
Maybe Krupnik is bothered that Christmas has become too commercial, Nuccio says. "I am, too. All this nonsense about whether you should say 'Merry Christmas' or 'Happy Holidays.'
"But he shouldn't have done that to Santa."