A major holiday debate has abounded in Rhode Island over the past few years. The controversy first ignited in 2011 when Democratic Gov. Lincoln Chafee called the state's official Christmas tree a "holiday" spruce.
Reversing course on the policy he green-lighted in 2011, Chafee put out a statement on Monday noting that after two years of calling it a "holiday tree," he's now prepared to refer to the 2013 evergreen as a "Christmas tree."
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee talks with The Associated Press during an interview at his Statehouse office in Providence, RI. Chafee has announced he decided not to run for reelection in 2014. (Credit: AP)
"In 2011, my first year celebrating December in the State House I gave a simple six word instruction to the planners of the annual tree lighting: 'Do what they did last year,'" he said in the statement.
Since previous governors had reportedly used the "holiday tree" terminology, he simply continued the tradition, according to CNN. But in doing so, he sparked debate.
Chafee continued, "Despite the myriad of pressing issues facing Rhode Island and the nation, this presumably happy event became a focal point for too much anger. Strangely lost in the brouhaha was any intellectual discussion of the liberties pioneered here in Rhode Island 350 years ago in our Charter. Because I do not think how we address the State House tree affects our 'lively experiment,' this year's invitation calls the tree a Christmas tree."
In 2012, the governor canceled the tree lighting all together and, as The New York Daily News noted, invited children to sing at a holiday event instead. This year, shortly after announcing that he won't be running for re-election, Chafee is again returning to a "Christmas" designation for the tree.
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