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Inmate claims fictitious 'Festivus' religious holiday to score better food

December 14, 2010 | 11:20 am

Festivus An Orange County jail inmate caused a stir this year by successfully claiming the fictitious holiday Festivus, made famous on the television show “Seinfeld,” as part of his religious beliefs to score better meals.

Malcolm Alarmo King, 38, enjoyed “a high protein no salami diet 3 times per day for ‘Festivism’” according to a court order by Orange County Superior Court Judge Derek G. Johnson.

King, who was serving a one-year sentence at Theo Lacy Jail for a drug offense, also got the judge to sign off on double portions of kosher meals three times a day in a bizarre arrangement first reported by the Orange County Register.

Before long, jail personnel familiar with the “Seinfeld” episode that popularized "Festivus for the rest of us” as an alternative to the commercialism of the holiday season were snickering about the inmate’s request, which they suspected was less than legitimate.

“People picked up on it pretty quick and said this wasn't right,” said Cmdr. Dave Wilson of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

When correctional officers interviewed King about his religious convictions in May, he changed his story, saying he believed in “Healthism.”

Officers concluded double portions were not medically necessary and that King “did not not hold a sincere religious belief that requires a restrictive kosher diet,” Wilson said.

Festivus, as explained by the character George Costanza and his father in a 1997 episode of “Seinfeld,” includes the customary Airing of Grievances, Feats of Strength and an aluminum Festivus pole in place of a Christmas tree.

Kosher meals or double helpings are not a part of the faux holiday.

Still, it didn’t stop King from enjoying customized meals for months until the county got them thrown out in court. He was released in October.

Read the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s records on King's Festivus-inspired requests here.


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Photo: Malcolm Alarmo King. Credit: Orange County Sheriff's Department