Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has pulled the plug on the state’s annual tree lighting ceremony one year after he created a yuletide controversy by changing its name to a “holiday” tree.
The governor’s spokeswoman did not give a reason for the decision. But last year his office was flooded with thousands of telephone calls protesting the name change. Many citizens accused the Independent governor of trying to secularize Christmas.
At the time, Chafee said the name change was meant to honor the state’s origin as a sanctuary of religious tolerance.
Last year State Rep. Doreen Costa launched what became an act of yuletide defiance — she brought her own Christmas tree and held a protest lighting. Costa said she is going to do the same thing this year.
“I’m sick of being politically correct,” she told Fox News. “Nobody’s been offended by calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree. If we have a Menorah in the State House, what are we going to call it – a candle with sticks?”
Costa said she just shook her head when she learned the governor called off the tree lighting ceremony. She said was overwhelmed by calls and email from citizens wanting to stage a protest tree-lighting.
“So let’s celebrate the Christmas season with a Christmas tree lighting,” she said.
Rhode Islanders are using social networking sites to voice their opinions on the controversy.
“The next Governor’s election, can’t get here fast enough,” wrote a reader on the Providence Journal website. “Chaffee has been nothing but a total insult to the vast majority of Rhode Islanders.”
In lieu of a tree-lighting ceremony, the governor’s office said student glee clubs will participate in a series of Statehouse concerts.