Governor Lincoln Chafee is responding to critics regarding the hot-button holiday tree controversy at the State House.
In a statement, the governor starts by saying, "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.' ”
Chafee was criticized in the past for describing the Statehouse Christmas tree as a "holiday tree."
In his statement, the governor says, "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."
Chafee closes by saying that Secretary of State Ralph Mollis "has offered to light the tree, and I have accepted his gracious offer. The tree lighting will be on Thursday (December 5, 2013) at 5:30 p.m. in the State House rotunda. Once again, our many thanks to all those who have worked hard to make our State House festive."