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Battle Rages Over 'Holiday Tree' Lighting In Mount Sinai; Some Want 'Christmas' Back

MOUNT SINAI, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- It's usually a controversy to call a Christmas tree event a "holiday event," but this year in one Long Island town it's the other way around and it's causing people to pick a side.

As CBS 2's Ann Mercogliano reports, while the ceremony may be centered on a big tree, some residents are complaining, saying it's not enough about Christmas.

The annual "holiday tree lighting" ceremony in Mount Sinai has been the way here. No question, when this tree is lit on Sunday it will look just like a Christmas tree, but the event, residents say, has always been called the "holiday tree lighting" and they want to know: where's the Christmas in that?

"A Christmas tree is a Christmas tree," said David Black of Port Jefferson Station. "I want it to be called a Christmas tree. Yes, that's what it is!"

"I just think it's a menorah, it's a Christmas tree and we should respect each other," added Patricia Snider of Miller Place.

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs On The Story


The holiday tree lighting has been a tradition in Mount Sinai since 1996, and it's always been called just that.

But now calls from residents to change the name has sparked a discussion and even an online petition -- with hits coming in from across the country.

The Heritage Trust non-profit that currently runs the lighting said it is staying neutral on this one, but a name change could be on the way.

"Whatever the will of the community is, that's what the Heritage non-profit will do," Heritage Trust's Lori Baldassare said.

While there are calls to include the word "Christmas" in the name of the ceremony, the thought of changing tradition here doesn't sit well with everyone.

"If they're against it don't come. If they're for it, they come, but there shouldn't be anything bad," said Angelo Pontillo of Coram.

"What difference does it make what you call it? It's a tree lighting, you're gonna light the tree," added Bob Brasen of Sound Beach.

"Christmas is for everybody," a man told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

The Heritage Trust said it has sent out a survey to residents asking what they want and based on the results of the survey they'll decide what they'll do. The Trust said they'll announce at the tree lighting on Sunday what the community chose to do with the name.

What do you think? Should it be a Christmas celebration or a "holiday" celebration? Sound off in the comments section below!

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