OKEECHOBEE — After Okeechobee City posted a cryptic message stating, “Due to concerns related to Covid-19, the annual Christmas Tree Lighting will be limited to city council, city employees and their families. We will be conducting it Dec. 1st. Santa will not be in attendance,” the outcry on Facebook was instantaneous and has led to calls for consolidation of city and county stating the city is no longer needed for anything. Some have suggested a recall of the city council.
One outraged poster said she had only been to one tree lighting ceremony in the past, but they had no right to tell her she could not go if she wanted to and accused the city council of becoming mini dictators.
David Davis suggested having a 2nd amendment rally on that day to remind the “tyrants” what the Constitution is all about, and someone chimed in with, “I do believe this could be a very misaligned case of taxation without representation. Our taxes paid for all of it, plus the stooges who made the call, and only the sweat of your brow, not you peasants.”
Richard Varnadore said releasing a statement like that, “tells all of us ‘the residents’ that you’re not important enough or you’re not immune to the “COVID” apparently like them and their families are so you’re not welcome.
Many questioned why it would be safe to stand and watch the Christmas parade two weeks from now, but it was not safe to watch a tree-lighting ceremony now.
Robina Marker said, “People can have craft festivals, monster truck shows, send our kids to school, and then there’s Wal-mart. How about letting the tax paying voting citizens be able to attend and follow CDC guidelines. If you’re sick, stay home.”
One group proposed meeting at Dunkin Donuts to watch the ceremony they believed would still be held.
Another group planned to come to the park early and bring a Frisbee. Al Cole said, “According to the governor of the great state of Florida, we are in phase 3 of reopening the state, which means, there are no limits to the amount of people allowed to gather for outdoor events. Plus, the park is owned by the great people of Okeechobee, the public tax payers, as is the tree, the lights, and the decorations. In addition, you, the city council and the city employees, are employees of the same tax payers. So, if you expect the public to stay home and watch a live stream, while you and your families enjoy the lighting ceremony in private, you will be gravely disappointed. See you tomorrow, say, around 5 p.m.”
Melissa Marin attempted to be the voice of reason saying, “It’s not like they take the tree down right after the ceremony. The kids aren’t even singing. Why the big deal to see the switch?”
Bruce Henry also tried to calm the crowds (sort of), “People they’re just turning the Christmas lights on, RELAX. They can’t invite the public because God forbid one of you crybabies gets COVID-19 the first thing you would say is I’m suing the city. Oh and by the way, where were all of you keyboard lipsmackers when they wanted input about the fire department?”
Mary Cruz tried to explain why she was so upset, “It’s the fact that they said no one could attend except the city employees and their families. Why are they allowed the privilege of attending something that’s a celebration, which we all need, and bringing their families,but the ordinary John Q. Public is denied what little bit of enjoyment they could get from attending?”
Earlier in the day, City Administrator Marcos Montes de Oca said he felt it was a misunderstanding. The post was not at all meant to offend anyone, but obviously offended many. There is not going to be a ceremony, he said. “The mayor is literally going to flip a switch.”