Is it legal for random civilians to decorate the Taft Bridge? We could have called and asked the District government before writing our story about the guys who hang Christmas wreaths around the concrete lions that flank the historic span — but we didn’t want to tip off authorities, for fear they’d shut down the secret annual decorating party.
Since then we’ve conferred with city officials, and it seems we won’t have to visit Bill Corcoran, Eric Palladini and their co-cconspirators in jail. John Lisle, spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said he doesn’t know of any rules prohibiting such an act of holiday cheer on municipal property.
“Technically, you probably need a public-space permit,” he told us. “But as far as we’re concerned, they’re not hurting anything, and it’s not anything anyone’s complained about or that requires action.” In contrast, Lisle said, his office did receive complaints about another mystery elf who stretched Christmas lights over a Georgetown street — a possible hazard. But “as long as they’re not harming [the lions] or damaging them in some ways,”Corcoran and Palladini’s quarter-century holiday tradition is not a problem for the city.
Cleveland Park residents Sherry Sprague and Gary Guzy wrote us with a theory that they may have been the first to decorate the lions: One crazy night in the mid-'80s, they found a pair of giant wreaths in a nearby dumpster and decided to put them on the lions. “We thought about trying to do it again the next year, but someone beat us to it.” Like everyone else, they just assumed it was the city.
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