Knob won't light up for Easter — but maybe for Christmas

Negotiations underway to find common ground in church-state dispute over Milford's traditional cross and star ornament

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  • The ornament on Knob, that can be strung with lights to make a cross for Easter, as shown, or to make a Christmas star (Photo by Pamela Chergotis)

— The cross above Milford, on the mountainside known as “The Knob,” will remain unlit this Easter, according to an activist who's been trying to get the lights turned back on.

Heidi Watson-Held started a petition directed at John Donahue, the Superintendent of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, part of the National Park Service. Negotiations are underway to light up both the cross, which is usually illuminated at Easter, and the star, which traditionally shines at Christmas, once again in future.

Representatives of the park and The Lions Club, which has long maintained the Knob ornament, met early this month to find common ground. It may be possible to obtain a special-use permit for the ornament, even when religious symbols are on federally owned lands, out of consideration for history and community identity.

Watson-Held posted an update but didn’t respond to The Courier’s messages. She said she was going to withdraw from the discussion.

She cited regulations under 36 CFR 2.51, and wrote that the Lions “respectfully requested” Donahue to further research “that the privately owned and supported Historic structure of a cultural and ethnographic nature which the Community at Large for almost nine decades identifies lovingly is a tradition that is reflective of our community Borough and County heritage versus any religious affiliation.”

The cross and star are privately owned and maintained by The Lions Club.

So for those who would like to see the cross and the star lit up again, there’s hope.

Watson-Held said the superintendent "agreed that these symbols may have a historical tradition as a cultural and ethnographic asset to the Delaware River Water Gap Recreation Area, as it is linked with other landmarks in the area. As a result, the Superintendent agreed to have the NPS further research the issue and to send the request above his station for consideration.”

Messages left with park officials were not returned by press time.

Milford Mayor Sean Strub, earlier identified by Watson-Held as being willing to mediate, declined to comment and directed inquiries to The Lions Club, which had “reached a decision on how they would like to proceed."

Messages with The Lions Club were not returned by press time.

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