The Jaycees Friday complied with a federal court order and removed 16 paintings depicting the life of Jesus Christ from a public park.
U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur in Chicago on Monday ruled the exhibit, an Ottawa tradition since 1956, was an unconstitutional endorsement of the Christian religion."We are upset about the decision," Jaycees President Aimee Jonassen said. "We don't like to take the display down but it's something we have to do.
"Thinking back, I didn't think we'd see this. I want to think the paintings will be up again but that is up to the court of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court."
Shadur's decision was issued in response to a suit filed by an unidentified woman who was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. The suit challenged the city's failure to limit the frequency and duration of the display.
Jaycees attorney George Hupp Jr. said the paintings will be placed in storage. An appeal will be filed after the holidays.
"I think taking down the paintings is totally wrong," Mayor George Small said. "The pictures always have been a part of Christmas in Ottawa."