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Church State Issues

Resident defies Ohio deadline on 'Zombie Nativity'

Jan 1, 2015

Arizona Republic

Resident defies Ohio deadline on 'Zombie Nativity'

A Cincinnati area man thinks he's being targeted because of his Christmas display.

Associated Press 7:45 a.m. MST December 31, 2014

CINCINNATI — A "Zombie Nativity" scene stands on the front yard of Jasen Dixon's home in Sycamore Township, Ohio, near Cincinnati, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014. Township officials notified Dixon that the display violates zoning rules on size and placement of yard structures.

Sycamore Township officials said last week they had received complaints about debris at the home and concluded that the display violates rules on size and placement of yard structures. They sent resident Jasen Dixon two zoning violation notices and gave him until the day after Christmas to take it down.

Facing a fine and legal action, Dixon instead kept the display up. A Facebook page devoted to the scene urges support for "freedom of expression."

The scene has eerie figures including a demonic-looking creature sitting up in the manger where the baby Jesus would be in traditional Christmas nativities. There's a detached head with it in the manger, while another ghoulish figure holds a replica heart in its hand as a somber "Silent Night" plays in the background.

Township officials have said it's not an anti-zombie issue, but pro-zoning rules. Messages were left Tuesday seeking township comment.

"We do live in a free country, don't we?" asked Judy Giese, who lives down the block from Dixon on Vorhees Lane (not related to "Friday the 13th" movie slasher Jason Voorhees). Auto paint and body shops line the other side of the road in the township nearly 15 miles northeast of Cincinnati.

Dixon manages a haunted house attraction and used figures from a Halloween display to create what he calls a holiday decoration. He has begun crowdfunding online to build an even better scene for next year — and to help cover any "township citations." His Facebook page as of Tuesday didn't state when the first version would be put away.

Giese said she and her husband took down their own small nativity scene and lights after Christmas, although they left up some little snowman figures for the winter. She doesn't mind if Dixon expands his display, as long as it's not into her yard.

"It's different," she said, adding that it was quite a hit with guests at their Christmas party. "It's like being next to an amusement park."