Port told to exclude Christmas trees and menorahs; Sea-Tac Airport - Reflect region, not religion, in holiday décor, committee says

Lights, colors, fabric, garlands and even fir trees should decorate the airport this holiday season, but not Christmas trees, menorahs or other specific religious symbols, according to recommendations presented to the Seattle Port Commission on Thursday.

The Holiday Decorations Advisory Committee made the recommendations in the wake of last winter's flap over holiday decorations at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

In December, airport officials ordered the Christmas trees taken down after a local rabbi asked to have an 8-foot-tall menorah displayed next to the largest tree.

The committee report said that the holiday decorations should "reflect the Pacific Northwest environment and our diverse community, and convey universal values, such as peace and harmony. ... Our goal is to create an inclusive and warm environment at the airport."

Local attorney Fredric Tausend chaired the 12-person committee that made the recommendations.

Tausend said he hopes the recommendations will be a good alternative to the Christmas trees.

The decorations should "have meaning and welcome the people of many diverse cultures that go through the airport."

Trees native to the Northwest still could appear in the airport decorations but shouldn't be decorated as traditional Christmas trees, though some on the committee were "very clear that the Christmas trees were not a Christian religious symbol," he said.

Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky, who was the first to complain about last year's decorations, was also part of the committee but came to only one meeting, Tausend said. Bogomilsky could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Bogomilsky's attorney, Harvey Grad, said he wasn't aware of the recommendations. His client couldn't make it to all the meetings because of scheduling conflicts, he said.

Port spokesman David Schaefer said the recommendations will go to airport officials, who will hire a designer to look at options for this year.

After the airport has a design, it will go back to the commission for review, he said.

Brian Alexander: 206-464-2026 or balexander@seattletimes.com