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Cross Overlooks Milford: Can it Stay?

MILFORD — A religious symbol that’s stood for decades may have to find a new spot to shine during the Easter season. A Christian cross has been lit ...

MILFORD -- A religious symbol that's stood for decades may have to find a new spot to shine during the Easter season.

A Christian cross has been lit every spring in this part of Pike County.

It turns out the cross is currently on public land, and despite calls to light it up, the cross may stay dark this year.

If you look down Main Street in Milford and up to the top of a steep incline, you can barely make out the metal frame of that cross.

It also doubles as a star during the Christmas season and has been lit every season going back to the early 1900s. Now, the property it's on has new owners and it's uncertain if the cross can stay.

The cross is high atop what's known as The Knob overlooking Milford.

Folks say the framework dates back to the 1930s. Lights make out the shape of a star in winter and a cross in the Easter season, but that could change.

"I can't see anything wrong with it. I'm sure there's other people that don't see it that way. They may get offended a little bit because it doesn't represent their religion," said John Galasso of Milford.

Many people in and around Milford are hearing the fate of the Christian cross is up in the air. The Lions Club, which makes sure electricity is running to The Knob and maintains the display, doesn't have a permit yet.

After so many years, the National Park Service took ownership of the property in 2015.

"When I'm driving into town, I always loved seeing the cross, and it's a wonderful sort of light shining down on Milford," said resident Maryann Ruby.

Whether it's the star or the cross, the symbol has been a part of Milford for a long time. The Lions Club was able to get a permit for the star but so far, it's unclear if it can get permission for the cross.

"I have to say, I also felt it was definitely a Christian message. We do have other people that live here," Ruby added.

A petition to allow the cross on The Knob has gained roughly 1,500 signatures online and plenty of people want to see the Milford tradition remain.

"It just is peaceful," said Susan Fontaine of Dingman Township. "I don't understand why anyone would want to take it down. It's been part of this community for a long time and I don't know anyone that complains about it. It's Milford. To take it away would be very sad."

"I'm quite sure it will be missed," said Galasso. "There's people from all over that come here to see that at Easter and Christmas."

A spokesperson for the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area says the Lions Club withdrew its permit application for the cross but would not get into specifics.

"Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area did not deny the Milford Lion’s Club’s special use permit application.  The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area staff received a special use permit application on March 3 from the Milford Lion’s Club to erect a lighted cross on the parcel of land known as Milford Knob.  On March 22, the Milford Lion’s Club voluntarily withdrew their special use permit application.  I refer you to the Milford’s Lion’s Club for additional information about the withdrawal of their application.

"The area known as Milford Knob was privately-owned land until prior to October 30, 2015, when it was then transferred to the National Park Service.  Milford Knob is subject to National Park Service rules and policies.

"Special Park Use Permits authorizes activities that benefit an individual, group or organization, rather than the public at large: and that require written authorization and management control in order to protect park resources and the public interest."

Kathleen Sandt
Public Affairs Specialist
National Park Service
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

The president of the club tells Newswatch 16 the park service told him if the Lions requested a permit for the cross, it could end up losing any future permits for the star as well.