3,600 R.I residents complain over "holiday" tree

A large Christmas tree stands to one side of the North Portico entrance in the Entrance Hall during the first viewing of the 2011 White House Christmas decorations November 30, 2011 in Washington, DC. The theme, 'Shine, Give, Share' runs throught the White House with a 400-pound White House Gingerbread House and 37 Christmas trees, including the official 18-foot 6-inch balsam fir tree in the Blue Room that honors Blue Star military families. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Thousands of people have lodged complaints over independent Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee's decision to call a spruce erected at the Statehouse a holiday tree and not a Christmas tree.

Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger says his office has received 3,600 telephone calls of protest since Fox News included his office number in a piece on the tree squabble last week. All but 700 of the calls were from out of state. Ninety-two callers supported Chafee.

Chafee says the word "holiday" is inclusive and reflects Rhode Island's origins as a haven for religious diversity. Previous governors also used the term to describe Statehouse trees.

Celebrating the Holidays 2011

Chafee will host a tree lighting ceremony Tuesday evening. A Republican state lawmaker upset with Chafee's terminology plans to decorate a Christmas tree outside her Statehouse office at the same time.

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