PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Governor Lincoln Chafee went on national television Thursday night just hours after a tree lighting ceremony took place at the State House with only thirty minutes warning.
The controversy developed last holiday season over whether to call the tree at the State House a ‘Holiday Tree' or a Christmas Tree.
- Watch Now: Chafee on O'Reilly Factor
The governor's office sent notice about the ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, a half-hour before the ceremony was scheduled to begin.
The governor said his office intentionally gave short notice to avert a repeat of last year when demonstrators, outraged at the governor's decision to call the State House tree a "holiday" tree, interrupted the ceremony.
The issue blew up again on Monday, when Chafee's office sent out a news release stating that there would be no formal lighting ceremony.
On Thursday night, Governor Chafee and Fox News Anchor Bill O'Reilly had some pretty heated exchanges about the name of the tree.
"And that's what T's people off. Ya say you want people happy... they're not happy with you Governor. They want you to call a Christmas Tree, a Christmas Tree," said Bill O'Reilly.
O'Reilly has been talking about the controversial tree for the past three days.
"The Christmas Tree is a secular symbol, it's not a symbol of religion - it has nothing to do with it", said O'Reilly during the heated discussion.
"This is a secular building, it's a public building, it's paid for by people of all religions," responded Governor Chafee.
Governor Chafee says the Rhode Island "Holiday Tree" dates back to the 1990s, and he plans to continue to call the lighted, decorated tree what the past two governors have called it.
Eyewitness News has confirmed that there will be a Menorah lighting at the State House for Hannukah, but the Governor's Office has not said when that will take place.
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