Florida Capitol's Festivus Pole Gets International Attention

Dec 13, 2013

Chaz Stevens and his Festivus beer can pole meet with reporters in the Capitol.
Credit Margie Menzel/News Service of Florida

A 6-foot pole made of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans is making news around the world as it stands in Florida’s Capitol building.

Maker Chaz Stevens and his beer-can pole have been featured on the Colbert Report, the Huffington Post, and the major networks.

"They were talking about me in Australia," Stevens told reporters in Tallahassee.

The South Florida blogger drove seven hours from his home in Deerfield Beach to display the pole celebrating Festivus, a parody holiday that gained notoriety in the sitcom "Seinfeld."

The show's characters decided that Dec. 23 should be a day “for the rest of us” who don’t want to take part in the commercialism of Christmas.

Stevens, an atheist, made the trip after hearing about a nativity scene inside the Capitol.

“This is about separation of church and state,” Stevens said. “The government should not be in the business of allowing religious symbols.”

The pole will be on display until January 3.

“When I asked to put this up, I hoped that I could make a circus out of it. That was my intention,” Stevens said. “The government doesn’t belong here.”

After hearing about the nativity, an array of groups sent requests to the Florida Department of Management Services to display their holiday messages, like the Tallahassee Atheists and the Satanic Temple of Tallahassee.

Pam Olsen with the Florida Prayer Network said she’s praying for Stevens as well as the group that posted a banner celebrating freedom from religion.

“It’s Christ in Christmas, and that’s why we put the nativity scene up,” Olsen said. “I’m not sure what [the Festivus pole] has to do with Christmas or celebrating the season, but you know what? It’s the freedom of speech to put it up here.”

The competing displays led to a brief spat, with Stevens telling Olsen to remove the nativity.

"Well, it won't be removed, because we have freedom in America.  Remember that, sir,” Olsen said.

“We also have the separation of church and state government,"  Stevens replied.

Stevens said he expected a push back from Christians.

“What I didn’t expect is the blow back from – ready for this -- Festivus purists who take great exception to a Festivus pole made out of beer cans,” Stevens said. “They get really irritated.”

Next stop for Stevens? He’s pondering a Festivus beer-can pole in the nation’s capital.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this story.