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This page first posted on Jan. 6, 2009

Nativity scene ice sculpture in front of Fairbanks City Hall in Alaska.
Nativity_scene_Ice_Sculpture
Nativity scene ice sculpture in front of Fairbanks City Hall at 800 Cushman Street in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Photo taken on the night of Jan 4, 2009.
Temperature approx -40 degrees F.
No flash was used in the photo above.View is looking toward West North west.

Nativity scene_ice sculpture
Use of camera flash makes ice fog show up more.
Temperature is about 40 degrees  below 0 Fahrenheit.
Ice sculpture is at 800 Cushman Street..
Photo taken on night of Jan. 4, 2009. The view is looking toward the south west.

There is a beautifiul ice carving of the Nativity scene (Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in a crib) in front of the Fairbanks City Hall building. The ice statue was completed on Dec. 24, 2008.
However, I heard on the radio (KFAR) on Jan 6, 09, that someone at City Hall wants to tear it down.
I (Randy Griffin) sent the following email (in pink box) to the City Mayor of Fairbanks on Jan 6, 2009. 
I also CCed this email to 2 people at the KFAR radio station.

The email address of  Fairbanks City Mayor Terry Strle is:  tmstrle@ci.fairbanks.ak.us


Mayor Terry Strle
Fairbanks City Hall
Fairbanks, Alaska
 
Dear Mayor Strle:
 
Thank you for allowing the beautiful ice statue to be created in front of the City Hall building on Cushman Street.
I think the talented artists from China did an excellent job. I also appreciate the many Fairbanks citizens who contributed to its creation.
 
I heard that the statue might be torn down. I hope that it could be allowed to remain for the few remaining months of its natural life.
The statue is aesthetically pleasing and is of a heart-warming subject matter – a little baby in a crib and 2 proud and protective parents.
 
There is some religious connotation since the artwork is showing Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. However, at the same time, the event is secular since the birth of Jesus is a historical fact. Christmas celebrates the historical fact that Jesus was born.
 
The rock statue that has been in front of the City Hall building for several years was brought over from Italy near where Felix Pedro was born, I believe.
The statue is abstract, but I believe it could be interpreted as commemorating the birth of Felix Pedro who played an important part of the early history of Fairbanks.
 
As far as any religious connotation of the ice sculpture, I really don’t think there is any constitutional problem there, just as there is no constitutional problem with saying a little prayer at the start of the Fairbanks City Council meeting.
 
The First Amendment of the U.S Constitution lists some things that CONGRESS shall not do. It says in part: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or preventing the free exercise thereof; …”
The First Amendment was meant to prevent the creation of a NATIONAL government sponsored church such as the Church of England.
 
If the city of Fairbanks is at all concerned that some people may think that it is advocating certain religious views rather than just celebrating Christmas and ice art, then the city could place a disclaimer placard.
The little disclaimer placard sign could be placed by the ice carving and could say:
 
“This ice carving was conceived, created and financed by the voluntary efforts of private Fairbanks citizens. Talented artists visiting from China did the actual carving.
Like all the ice art in Fairbanks, this statue is temporary, and will pass away with the spring sun.
Taxpayer money was not used to create or support this statue, and the City of Fairbanks is making no statement in regard to the subject matter or artistic expression of this statue.”
 
I am one of the citizens that contributed a little bit of money to the creation of this ice artwork. I wrote a $25 check to Ice Alaska and dropped it off at the KFAR radio station on December 16, 2008.
 
Sincerely Yours,
Randy S. Griffin
PO Box 73653, Fairbanks, Alaska


Ice Sculpture_NativityScene
Ice art sculpture at 800 Cushman Street, Fairbanks, AK.
Night of January 4, 2009. View looking toward south west.
Camera flash not used for this photo.

Update: The beautiful ice sculpture will be allowed to remain.

People were aghast to hear that the administration of the Fairbanks City Hall wanted to tear down the ice sculpture in front of the City Hall building by Jan 6 or 7.
Many people called the 2 local radio talk shows on KFAR radio (Fairbanks, Alaska) on Tuesday Jan 6, 2009 and gave their overwhelming support in favor of keeping the beautiful ice sculpture intact. (I (R. Griffin) have those radio shows recorded on tape.)

On Jan. 6, 09, the local Channel 13 TV news (K13XD, CBS affiliate in Fairbanks) reported about the ice sculpture in front of City Hall.
The TV news report featured an interview with Dan Schaaf who is a strong proponent for keeping the sculpture, as well as an interview with Fairbanks City Mayor Terry Strle who gave a different point of view.

On Jan 8, 09 Channel 13 TV reported that the City of Fairbanks administration had agreed to hold off on the planned destruction of the ice sculpture and that the subject would be discussed at the next Fairbanks City Council meeting on Monday Jan 12.

On Friday Jan. 9, 09, word was received that the City of Fairbanks administration decided to let the ice sculpture remain (basically until it melts in the spring).

The Fairbanks City Council meeting took place Monday January 12, 09. The ice sculpture was not on the agenda since the decision to let it remain, had been made earlier on Friday Jan. 9.
However, a total of 7 citizens testified before the City Council during the normal citizens comment period, during which time citizens may speak on non agenda items. All 7 spoke in favor of the ice sculpture. 

A caller on the Michael Dukes radio talk show (called into KFAR on 1/15/09) annouced that
there will be a gathering of citizens at the Nativity scene ice sculpture
in front of Fairbanks City Hall on Monday Jan. 19, 2009 at 6:00 PM.

This is so as to show support for the continuing existance of the sculpture. It will also be a photo opportunity.

I would like to thank the following citizens who helped create the lovely ice art sculpture:
Frank Turney
Dan Schaaf
Michael Dukes
And the very talented ice carver artists who traveled all the way from China to visit Fairbanks.

And there are quite a few other citizens who helped. I apologize for not mentioning them here by name.


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