PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The State House rotunda was awash with holiday cheer Wednesday night when the new Christmas tree was lit for the first time.
The new tree is of the artificial sort, much to the chagrin of local farmers. The 18-foot tree cost $6,500 and was paid for with funds left over from when the state hosted the National Governors Association conference back in 2017.
Raimondo called it a “no-win situation,” explaining that it’s hard to keep a tree alive in the old and overly heated building.
“Due to conditions inside the State House, it’s challenging to keep a real tree alive and thriving from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day,” she said. “I want Rhode Islanders to be able to enjoy the State House Christmas decorations – especially the tree – for the entirety of the holiday season.”
Two years ago, the tree died just 10 days shy of Christmas, leaving the floor littered with pine needles.
Appearing on Dan York State of Mind this week, the co-owners of Big John Leyden’s Tree Farm spoke out against the decision to go artificial, saying a tree of the same size would cost around $500 and in years past, it was donated to the state.
Timothy Leyden said there are ways to keep a tree alive in a building like the State House.
“I think it’s a sign of laziness. It’s just so simple to maintain that tree,” he said. “Once it is up, once it’s decorated, someone needs to maintain and check the water level of the water stand daily.”
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