Mayor John Hickenlooper returned home from a short business trip to find that his city had been getting national attention, KMGH-TV reports. It followed organizers' decision that a religious group could not participate in the annual Parade of Lights with a float bearing the Merry Christmas message and the singing of religious Christmas carols.
Hickenlooper contributed to the controversy just before he left by announcing that the Merry Christmas sign would be changed to Happy Holidays next year.
"Over the past several days, it has become clear to me that there is strong community sentiment to maintain the 'Merry Christmas' sign, and I am glad to oblige," Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement, adding that he is not Scrooge even if his name is also spelled with two O's.
Supreme Court decisions have found that religious Christmas symbols and messages can be part of government holiday displays as long as secular figures like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus join them. Hickenlooper said he would explore adding "Happy Holidays" to the Christmas sign.