Man nails Santa to cross to protest commercialism

Man nails Santa to cross to protest commercialism
BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) - Art Conrad has an issue with the commercialism of Christmas, but instead of just shunning the malls and turning off his television, he's decided to share his distaste with his West Bremerton neighbors by displaying a 15-foot crucifix bearing Santa Claus in place of Jesus.

"Santa has been perverted from who he started out to be," Conrad said. "Now he's the person being used by corporations to get us to buy more stuff."

He photographed the crucified Santa for his own Christmas cards, bearing the message: "Santa died for your MasterCard."

The front-yard display is also Conrad's way of poking fun at political correctness. He believes people don't express their feelings because they're afraid of what other people might think.

His neighbors found the will to express their feelings this week. Some were offended but many were just curious.

Jake Tally of Bremerton walked by the display Friday and chuckled, but didn't pretend to understand the message.

"I don't really know what to think. I know it's about God but Santa has nothing to do with it," he told the Kitsap Sun newspaper.

One woman said she was offended and another feared how children might respond. At least one guessed at the anti-commercialism message.

Conrad said he got the idea for his homemade display from an article he read years ago about Japanese merchants mistakenly mixing up symbols in preparing for Christmas, putting Santa on the cross.

A visit to the Snopes urban legend Web site casts doubt on the origins of the Japan story. "As parody it's believable; as an honest mistake we find it unlikely," wrote the Snopes author. The article does mention that an artist once displayed a similar image in New York City as a statement about Christmas commercialism.

Conrad thought the story was funny - true or not - and decided that one day he'd have to put up a similar display. He created it by stuffing a Santa suit and borrowing the head off a motion-activated Santa that dances and sings Christmas carols.

The headless dancing Santa now carries a knife and sings and dances on Conrad's front porch.