Cottondale- Santa Clause, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman were all accounted for Wednesday on the lawn of Cottondale Elementary School. But for many in the community, key Christmas characters were missing.
"The department of Education came in and talked to us about the legalities of religion in the school systems and the separation of the two" explained Cottondale Elementary School Principal, Brenda Jones. "So, I came back and talked to the faculty about the law and way it's written. Trying to be fair to all people decided that we would just not put the nativity scene out on campus."
The nativity scene has been a fixture of the school's holiday decor for years, though the law has been in effect for many of them. Jones told us, "some of us have not really gone by [the law] totally. We've tried to be more of what we felt, other than what the law was stating."
We asked Jones, what made this year different?
"Most people just say 'Merry Christmas' and it's just a greeting" she said. "Others of us say 'Merry Christmas' and it means more to us- more than the words we're saying. But yes, I think somewhere where there is a law you have to draw the line and we've chosen to just not push it."
But parents and community members told us they were upset the Nativity scene had to be stored in a closet, instead of displayed in the yard.
Vicki Barber was one of many citizens who said she believed Florida schools should have fought harder against the regulation.
"I like what Louisianan did. They said, 'we're going to put one up, and we don't care who don't like it, we're going to do it. But, unfortunately, Florida is divided" Barber told us.
She suggested asking property owners across from schools to display the Nativity,
"Contact the schools, see if they can borrow the nativity set. Or get one, or call a church, we'll happily put one up for you" Barber told us.