Waunakee celebrates 25th anniversary of Supreme Court decision

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Posted: Saturday, December 5th, 2015 --- 9:15 p.m.

WAUNAKEE, Wis. -- Every December, for the past 25 years, singing hasn't stopped at the Nativity scene in Waunakee's Village Park.

In the mix of voices, is JoAnne Buchanan-Rounds'. She remembers the day this holiday tradition was almost gone.

"In 1990, the Kings sued to get it out of the village and we gathered petitions so everybody--just around the neighbors and neighborhoods-- I met with city council and we voted to keep it in the park," said Buchanan-Rounds.

Some neighbors who did not want the Crech in the park brought a case against the village in 1990. After a four year lawsuit, the Supreme Court ultimately decided Waunakee could keep the Nativity scene there, as long as a sign was put up, saluting liberty.

The sign reads: "During the holiday season, the Village of Waunakee salutes liberty. Let these festive lights and times remind us that we are the keepers of the flame of liberty and our legacy of freedom. Whatever your religion or beliefs, enjoy the holidays."

Buchanan-Rounds says the village fought hard.

"Prayed a lot. And we did all we could--then the Lord took care of the rest, the people just worked together."

Now with bells in hand, the same woman who handed all those signatures on a petition back in 1990, sings along just like the past 24 times she's done it.

"Every year--and oh we've had some weather that's unique. It's never been quite as warm as it is today," said Buchanan-Rounds.

And other long time Waunakee residents agree--the past 25 years flew by.

"When JoAnn called me and said it was 25 years ago, I said where did the years go!" said Fred Dorn with a laugh. He says he was there too, in 1990.

A holiday sight kept possible through team work, "I didn't do any of this alone, believe me not at all," said Buchanan-Rounds.

They're able to enjoy what's here now, leaving the past behind.

"No hard feelings," said Dorn.

The neighbors say the cut-outs were made over 70 years ago by a police chief in Waunakee who was particularly talented with crafts. Chief Henry Ripp made the creche and kept it in his garage.