The Weekly Tally 12.16.21


When is a Christmas tree lighting secular, and when is it religious? According to the Supreme Court, “Although Christmas trees once carried religious connotations, today they typify the secular celebration of Christmas.” That does not sit right with Michele Lyons, a parent of four, who filed a federal lawsuit against Carmel Unified School District and Carmel River Elementary School over the school’s tree lighting on Dec. 10. Lyons, who is Jewish, had requested permission to bring a large inflatable menorah to celebrate her family’s Hanukkah tradition. River School families were invited to “bring an item to decorate the tree that reflects each family’s value, heritage and/or faith,” and said items had to be “small enough to fit in a lunch paper bag.” As noted in Lyons’ suit: “A menorah… is not a Christmas tree ornament.” U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman denied Lyons’ request for an order blocking the event, based on technical matters – for instance, she names CUSD, but the PTA hosts it. Freeman did not go deeper into the substance of the case, but wrote: “Plaintiffs’ allegations… are very serious.”


“What Carmel has become, a wealthy resort, is what was planned all along.” – Scholar Catherine Prendergast on her book The Gilded Edge, exposing the myth of Carmel’s bohemian founding (see Face to Face story).



Crab lovers rejoice – the Monterey Bay crabbing season has begun, just in time for the tradition of crab on Christmas. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife opened Fishing Zone 4 (which spans from Pigeon Point to Lopez Point) to recreational Dungeness crabbing on Friday, Dec. 10 and the commercial season begins Thursday, Dec. 16. “We are pleased to announce the opening of Zone 4, allowing additional commercial and recreational crabbing opportunity,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said in a statement. “Fresh Dungeness crab have been arriving at local markets and onto the plates of eager crab loving Californians.” The season was delayed from its typical start in November due to the presence of humpback whales in the area, which could become dangerously entangled in crab trap lines. These restrictions remain for the time being in Zone 3, which stretches from Pigeon Point north to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line.


Great news for kids with different abilities: A second playground is in the works from Tatum’s Garden Foundation and Carmel Valley Community Youth Center, which announced design plans for the forthcoming Tatum’s Treehouse on Dec. 11. Like the foundation’s existing park in Salinas, the new one located in Carmel Valley Community Park will feature play structures for kids of all abilities. The center of the park will be a “Swiss Family Robinson-esque” treehouse, and other elements include a wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round and a sensory maze. There will also be an area for seniors. Fundraising is underway to cover the $850,000 budget, and the park is expected to be complete by early 2023. It will be located next to the community pool, replacing an existing park. “This will make sure all of the children in our community, and those who visit, are able to play together,” CVCYC’s Playground Committee wrote in a statement.

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