For five years, Bill O'Reilly has made Great Barrington a front in the supposed War on Christmas. In 2007, the Fox News host knocked town officials for installing a 10 p.m. curfew on holiday lights in order to limit the town's carbon footprint. This year, O'Reilly reported that Great Barrington has banned Main Street holiday lights. "The town that hates Christmas," he called it.
But anyone who visits would see holiday cheer and, yes, even Christmas spirit. Decorations put up by community groups and local businesses include wreaths, lights, and two large Christmas trees on the town lawn. "We even have a 12-foot-high, 300-pound Santa Claus!" said Betsy Andrus, executive director of Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. The annual downtown holiday event, attended by 3,000 people, featured fireworks, a snow machine, and a fire engine carrying a live Santa.
O'Reilly's disappointment seems to stem from the disappearance of five lighted snowflake ornaments, which had been strung across Main Street in recent years. But those snowflakes are in disrepair, their bulbs falling off when touched, said Andrus, whose group was mainly responsible for the decoration. Next year, in place of the snowflakes, will be a five-block light display hanging on new lampposts installed as part of the town's Main Street renovation. "In no way," Andrus said, "did we think five snowflakes was going to be a huge hullabaloo."
In reality, it's not.