A controversial "City Council Cemetery" Halloween display in St. Petersburg City Hall in Florida featured an unexpected reference to Ireland.
The display, which was in the foyer of St. Petersburg City Hall, included a cemetery featuring depictions of former members of the St. Petersburg City Council.
A gravestone for former Council Member Karl Nurse reportedly read: “EXHUMED sent to Ireland in search of affordable haunted housing.”
There was a Halloween decorating contest at St. Petersburg City Hall, with each department's entry on display in the public foyer.
A “City Council Cemetery” with headstones of former board members and “cause of death” has rubbed some the wrong way.https://t.co/5I0vMe3LzM— Colleen Wright (@Colleen_Wright) November 1, 2023
Earlier in October, Nurse said in a public social media post that he and his wife were saying goodbye to St. Petersburg after 47 years in order to "move to Ireland and to western North Carolina," in part to "help reforest Ireland and most significantly live in a community of considerably lower stress."
He added: "The culture wars wear me down. We have found the Irish people to be remarkably friendly and kind. We could learn from them. We will be moving later this month."
Responding to the Halloween display, Nurse told the Tampa Bay Times that it was "mean-spirited” and “not appropriate for a city building.”
He said: “You think about as a country, we are polarized, and in a community, it doesn’t serve our community well to poke your finger in the eye of people who have served your community."
He added: “It doesn’t bring people together. It just encourages negativity.”
The Halloween display at St. Petersburg City Hall featured a half-circle dais surrounded by pumpkins representing each current member of the council, as well as a "cemetery" featuring gravestones representing former members of the council.
One part of the display poked fun at a former council member's drinking habits, while another described a council member as having been "murdered" in the city's mayoral elections last year.
Another headstone in the display referenced Robert Blackmon's landslide defeat against Ken Welch in the mayoral elections last year.
"Rest in Peace Robert Blackmon murdered at the polls," the gravestone stated.
Blackmon said he "didn't mind" the "personal dig" but criticized the display for making light of violent crime.
"I think it sends a bad message when City Hall makes light of violent crime, substance abuse, and hurricanes while people in our city have been suffering with little assistance. City Hall needs to take more action instead of sitting back and laughing," Blackmon told the Tampa Bay Times.
The headstone for Jim Kennedy, who spent 10 years on the council, stated that he was "blown away by a hurricane" and added that he was now "three sheets to the wind."