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View From Lodi, CA: Christmas Still Alive In Lodi—And Radio City
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December 12, 2003, 04:00 AM
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Christmas—one of the most comforting words—has come under siege from the politically correct crowd. Every December, "Merry Christmas" fights it out with the offensive, grating "Happy Holidays" and the insufferable "Season`s Greetings."

Whenever I hear one of those obnoxious phrases, I am quick to reply: "And a Merry Christmas to you!"

But can Christmas survive the PC onslaught? That`s a tall order.

Lodi does a better job than most cities at maintaining Christmas and its traditions. During the "Parade of Lights," for example, the Lodi Fire Department was right out front wishing everyone a "Merry Christmas." And every night the fire trucks roam the city spreading Christmas cheer.

The Lodi News-Sentinel sponsored a "Spirit of Christmas 2003" essay contest for writers from ages 9 to 19. All of the eight winning essays—fiction and non-fiction—told stories how each writer feels about the importance of Christmas. 

Our trusty Lodi News-Sentinel carriers took out a full page ad to wish us all a "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."

Ann Kerr, the photo consultant at the Lodi Family History Center, just completed a two- year project about nativity scenes that she collected from all over the world. More than 300 Christmas scenes arranged by Kerr will be on display this weekend at Lodi`s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Kerr assembled a book retelling the Biblical version of the Christmas story that used photographs of her 10 grandchildren as the baby Jesus, the wise men and assorted angels.

Now for you Christmas fans, I am delighted to report great news from the national front. The "Radio City Christmas Spectacular" in New York is completely and totally "uncorrected." The show is magnificent in every respect and triumphantly celebrates Christmas in all of its glory.

Last Christmas when I was in New York, I went to the show two days after Christmas as an after-thought. Years had passed since I had last been to Radio City. Looking back, the Christmas Spectacular was the highlight of my trip.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular has delighted locals and tourists since 1933. Last year, more than 1 million people watched the 90-minute show that featuring a cast of 140 dancers and singers. Even at ticket prices ranging up to $125, the show is a "can`t miss" for anyone in Manhattan.

To keep the material fresh, every year some changes are made. "The Parade of Wooden Soldiers," performed by the Rockettes, is the same as it was 70 years ago. In "Toyland," the famous dancers are still dressed as rag dolls.

But last year, the 35-piece Radio City orchestra performed a new overture that introduced a 3-D film in which Santa Claus and his reindeer guide viewers on a sleigh ride through New York City. According to the New York Times, the film is:

"An eye-popping, gently stomach-flipping 3-D funhouse ride.  The audience, all sporting 3-D glasses, swoops by the Statue of Liberty, speeds over the Empire State Building, charges through Central Park, dashes by the holiday-clad windows of Fifth Avenue, and finally lands at Radio City Music Hall.  Gasps of excitement can be heard by the audience as they tour the great sites of New York City as never before." 

[The Bears Are Human; The Camels Are Camel, BY Lawrence van Gelder, November 7, 2001]

Other attractions added in recent years include a revised "Santa`s Workshop"—with the Rockettes as leggy reindeer—and "White Christmas in New York," in which the Rockettes appear as dancing snowflakes.

According to John Bonanni, the show`s production supervisor for the last nine years,

"The Rockettes are women who have danced on Broadway, in industrial shows, at corporate presentations. But to come here gives them a whole other identity. You have 36 individual women doing something together, creating a unit that is really beautiful and unique."

More than 1,300 colorful costumes are worn in The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. The Rockettes must change costumes eight times during each show—-sometimes in as little as 78 seconds.

The highlight of the Christmas Spectacular is "The Living Nativity," unchanged lo these many years. A parade of live animals including two donkeys, three camels, five sheep and a horse surround Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.

"This is an institution that is honored by a lot of people," said Bonanni, "There are things that have been part of this show for so many years, and you can`t change them."

In recent years, "The Radio City Christmas Spectacular" has gone on tour.

Unfortunately for Lodians, the closest the show will be is Phoenix where it will run from December 12-31. Should you be in that area, information is available at 480-784-4444.

And if you don`t have plans to visit Arizona, "The Christmas Spectacular" alone would be worth the trip.

[JOENOTE TO VDARE.COM READERS: I`ll be candid. I was shocked that "The Christmas Spectacular" was so untouched by correctness—-and in the super politically correct and multicultural New York, no less. I called Radio City Music Hall to ask how the show`s producers pulled it off.

A spokesman, Robert Moore, said simply, "Well, this is Christmas after all."]

[VDARE.COM NOTE: Last November, we reported in The Abolition Of "Holiday Season" that Mark Lowry, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram`s theater critic, was horrified that Radio City ends its traveling Christmas show with a Nativity scene and readings from the Bible.

[Radio City Christmas is a treat — until it descends into preachiness, The Radio City Music Spectacular is everything you expect, until the final 20 minutesNov. 15, 2002, By Mark Lowry, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.]

Lowry said that attendees had been ambushed with "Christian theology," which was "dated and borderline offensive, especially at a time when understanding of other cultures and beliefs is more important than ever."

Finally, he suggested patrons walk out in protest at the birth of Jesus:

"The RCCS creators are wrong to assume that Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians don`t have the same right to holiday fluff that Christians do.

"If you want to see the Rockettes, then go, but remember to leave after the `Christmas Dreams` number, before `The Living Nativity` begins.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.