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RI Statehouse tree lighting to be held after all

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — There will be a tree lighting ceremony at the Rhode Island Statehouse after all.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Tuesday that she was mistaken when she told The Associated Press and other news outlets Monday that there would be no tree lighting ceremony this year.

Last year, protesters crashed Chafee’s tree lighting ceremony to criticize him for referring to the tree as a holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree. Chafee said the term was meant to honor the state’s origin as a sanctuary of religious tolerance.

Critics claimed he was trying to secularize Christmas. They flooded his office with thousands of telephone calls of protest.

Spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger said Monday that Chafee made his position on the tree clear last year and was focused on more important matters now.

In a statement Tuesday, Hunsinger said staff miscommunicated and there would be a tree lighting ceremony.

She said the governor will attend the ceremony at a time and date to be announced.

Chafee has been in France since Saturday to visit a software company with offices in Rhode Island and was scheduled to return Tuesday.