Remember this guy? His presence, and then repeated removal, from the front of the Loudoun County courthouse last month helped spark the current reconsideration of holiday displays on the court’s front lawn in Leesburg. (Courtesy Ken Reid)

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The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to send the current policy concerning the use of the courthouse grounds to the county finance and government services committee for further examination.

“This has been an ongoing issue for the last few years,” said Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large), who proposed the motion. “Quite frankly, it has gotten to just be nothing but an embarrassment.”

The issue began in 2009, when a courthouse grounds committee, concerned by the number of requests to use the property, decided to enact a ban on all unattended displays — including the traditional nativity scene and Christmas tree that had been placed on the courthouse lawn for decades. The sudden change in policy prompted a fierce reply from many in the community, who crowded into the county board room clad in Santa hats to protest the ban.

In response to the outcry, the board reviewed the policy and decided to allow as many as 10 holiday displays on a first-come, first-served basis. But that did little to quell the escalating controversy, as an increasingly diverse arrangement of displays took shape on the lawn in the years that followed.

York expressed hope Tuesday that the board would adopt a revised policy “sooner rather than later, and clear all this up with the community before summer recess — and definitely not on December 1.”

The motion to review the policy included an amendment by Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) to temporarily suspend all unattended displays on the courthouse grounds until the Board of Supervisors completes its review.

“These large billboards that are on the courthouse lawn are of great concern to everybody in Leesburg,” Reid said.

A display posted by atheists during the 2009 holiday season offended some and contributed to the move to rethink holiday displays on the Loudoun courthouse lawn. (Ken Reid)

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