Macabre Christmas display makes statement
Updated: 2005-12-16 08:40
It's usually easy to tell where a person stands in the culture wars, but
whose side is someone on when his Christmas decor is a blood-spattered Santa
Claus holding a severed head?
A knife-wielding Santa Claus holds a bloody
head outside the home of Mildred Castellanos and Joel Krupnik, Tuesday,
Dec. 13, 2005, in New York. Krupnik says the display is intended to call
attention to the commercialization of Christmas.
Joel Krupnik and Mildred Castellanos
decked the front of their Manhattan mansion this year with a scene that includes
a knife-wielding 5-foot-tall St. Nick and a tree full of decapitated Barbie
dolls. Hidden partly behind a tree, the merry old elf grasps a disembodied
doll's head with fake blood streaming from its eye sockets.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Krupnik explained that his family thought
it would be a fun way to make a comment about the commercialization and
secularization of Christmas.
"It is a religious holiday, but they have turned it into a business. And it
shouldn't be," he said. "We didn't put it up to offend anybody. It was just
something that came out of our imagination."
More than a few people passing by the brownstone were a little puzzled about
the message behind the massacre. There were a few signs the macabre theme is a
year-round thing ¡ª the facade of the building was covered with leering
gargoyles. A statue of Death, hooded and grim-looking, stood outside.
Peter Nardoza, 81, of Manhattan, shook his head and chuckled.
"Sick, sick, sick," he said. "What kind of a world is this that we live in?"
Ronnie Santiago, a deliveryman on his route, speculated that something bad
must have happened once to the homeowner at Christmas. A few spectators wondered
whether the campy gore would bother children.
The family is far from the only one making an editorial comment this year on
how Americans celebrate Christmas, although it may be the only one doing it by
depicting Santa Claus as a killer.
Pope Benedict XVI complained this week that Christmas festivities have been
"subjected to a sort of commercial pollution." Christian conservatives have
launched campaigns to reintroduce a religious component to Christmastime decor
in schools and public squares, chiding even President Bush this year for sending
out cards wishing supporters a happy "holiday season."
But despite the home's gruesome exterior, some visitors appreciated it.
Bucky Turco, 31, of Manhattan, said the display captured how he felt when
watching someone costumed as SpongeBob SquarePants promote products at
"This is brilliant," said Turco.
Walter Garofalo, a musician from Brooklyn who wandered by wearing a black
bandanna covered in skulls, was awe-struck.
"I wonder if these people would let me use this as our next album cover," he
said. "It's perfect!"