Murderous Santa Display Draws Stares
By DAVID B. CARUSO
NEW YORK (AP) - It's usually easy to tell where a person stands in the culture wars, but whose side is someone on when his Christmas decor is a blood-spattered Santa Claus holding a severed head?
Joel Krupnik and Mildred Castellanos decked the front of their Manhattan mansion this year with a scene that includes a knife-wielding 5-foot-tall St. Nick and a tree full of decapitated Barbie dolls. Hidden partly behind a tree, the merry old elf grasps a disembodied doll's head with fake blood streaming from its eye sockets.
No one answered the family's door to explain on Tuesday, but Krupnik told the New York Post it was a statement about the commercialization and secularization of Christmas.
``Christmas has religious origins,'' he said. ``It's in the Bible. Santa is not in the Bible. He's not a religious symbol.''
The family is far from the only one making an editorial comment this year on how Americans celebrate Christmas, although it may be the only one doing it by depicting Santa Claus as a killer.
Pope Benedict XVI complained this week that Christmas festivities have been ``subjected to a sort of commercial pollution.''
Christian conservatives have launched campaigns to reintroduce a religious component to Christmastime decor in schools and public squares, chiding even President Bush this year for sending out cards wishing supporters a happy ``holiday season.''
Fox News talk show host John Gibson wrote a book claiming there is a liberal plot to ban Christmas.
Still, more than a few people passing by the Krupnik and Castellanos brownstone on Tuesday were a little puzzled about the message behind the massacre.
Peter Nardoza, 81, of Manhattan, shook his head and chuckled.
``Sick, sick, sick,'' he said. ``What kind of a world is this that we live in?''
Ronnie Santiago, a deliveryman on his route, speculated that something bad must have happened once to the homeowner at Christmas. A few spectators wondered whether the campy gore would bother children.
There were signs the macabre theme is a year-round thing. The facade of the building was covered with leering gargoyles. A statue of Death, hooded and grim-looking, stood outside.
A few people got it.
``This is brilliant,'' said Bucky Turco, 31, of Manhattan.
He said the display captured how he felt recently while watching someone costumed as SpongeBob SquarePants promote products at Rockefeller Center.
Walter Garofalo, a musician from Brooklyn who wandered by wearing a black bandanna covered in skulls, was awe-struck.
``I wonder if these people would let me use this as our next album cover,'' he said. ``It's perfect!''
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