Resolution alleged that singing carols "will produce negative effects on pedestrians and neighbors."
BUENOS AIRES -- The decision by the government of Buenos Aires this year not to authorize the tradition of caroling in the street on Thursday sparked a heated controversy among defenders of the Christmas spirit which eventually was settled by the revocation of the measure.
Catholic charity Caritas for years has organized children's choral shows where the kids sing Christmas carols on Florida Street, the capital's main shopping area.
But this year, organizers ran into a resolution by municipal authorities denying permission for the traditional activity.
The resolution alleged that singing carols "will produce negative effects on pedestrians and neighbors" and it said that it was the authorities' duty to defend the public space to safeguard "morality, health, security and the urban esthetic."
Surprised by the decision, Caritas officials said that the choirs had never caused any harm in 42 years and, on the contrary, passers-by always stop to listen and help out with charitable activities, like making donations, and - in fact - last Christmas the choral groups collected some $4,600.
"It's a shame that the city government over an ethical question is causing needy families to receive fewer voluntary donations for wheelchairs and food for Christmas Eve. Not even the military dictatorship dared to do that," city councilor Eduardo Epszteyn said.
He defended the traditional caroling as a "traditional component that builds Christmas spirit in society."
But just when the organizers had become resigned to taking the choral groups to supermarkets in the suburbs and the criticism of the official denial in the local media was growing worse, the city government announced that the prohibition had been "a mistake."
"Initially, the authorization was denied ... due to an administrative error," said the municipality in a communique, in which it added that Caritas had been authorized to carry out its traditional caroling activities.