Christmas in June?

A lawsuit over the placement of a Pennsylvania town’s annual Christmas tree has ended, and the tree-lighting ceremony moved, at least for the time being.

In 2016 and 2017, Middletown’s annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony was held in front of the historic McNair House. In 2018, the owners of the home, Adam and Virginia Germak, filed a lawsuit against the city. Mayor James Curry, III, who also happens to be an attorney, recommended to the council that the tree be moved and the ceremony held in front of the historic church, St. Peter’s Kierch.

“A 30-some-foot tree on property owned by the individuals suing the ICDA wasn’t a good idea.”

The move turned out to be “overwhelmingly positive” save for the Germak family. After the lawsuit was dismissed in the town’s favor, the Germaks reportedly said they never objected to the tree being on their property.

“We want it here,” Virginia Germak said of the tree. “All we’ve asked is to get a signed addendum that is per the deed, and an insurance policy” protecting the Germaks from liability over the tree and the ceremony being on the property.

“We’ve been waiting on the ICDA since December 2017 for an easement agreement regarding the holiday decorations on our property, so the ball has been in their court since December 2017 and they have not acted on it,”  Adam Germak added.

Virginia Germak said the couple’s two young children were “devastated” when they learned the tree would not be in their front yard last Christmas. The Germaks claim they bought the property with the understanding the tree would be part of the deal. Now, they say they are being blamed for the tree’s placement being moved.

“We were called the Grinch on Facebook,” Virginia Germak said.

According to news reports, councilor Ian Reddinger reportedly said the tree-lighting ceremony would have been held at the McNair House in 2018 if not for the Germaks filing their lawsuit.

“We were being sued by the Germaks in what I thought was a ridiculous lawsuit to begin with,” Reddinger said. “We couldn’t take the chance of someone saying, ‘We tripped.’ I didn’t want to go out of my way and invite another lawsuit” costing more tax dollars to defend.

The tree and tree-lighting ceremony will be held again at the church in 2019.

—Source: pressandjournal.com

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