Dead, dried-up Christmas tree to be replaced at Statehouse

December 18, 2017

Several branches are bare of needles on the Christmas tree in the Statehouse rotunda, Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, in Providence, R.I. Piles of needles cover the area beneath the donated tree that was put up in November. The governor's office said there were no plans to replace it. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A dead Christmas tree at the Statehouse is being replaced.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said on Monday that a new tree is coming after the first one dried up and dropped piles of needles more than a week before Christmas. She told reporters her staff plans the switch as soon as possible.

Raimondo, a Democrat, said she wants people to know, “Don’t worry, we’ll get a new tree.”

The move comes three days after The Associated Press reported Friday on the tree’s sorry condition, including bare branches and needles that dropped instantly when touched.

The AP article prompted a local tree farm to offer to donate a new tree. The state fire marshal’s office, which over the weekend put out a news release warning of the dangers of dried-out Christmas trees, did not immediately answer a question Monday about whether the fire marshal had seen the tree.

It’s not the first time the Rhode Island Statehouse tree has caused trouble. In 2005, it shed its needles after being doused in fire retardant. Former Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent at the time, refused to call it a Christmas tree and called it a holiday tree instead, leading to angry protests. Last year, the first tree selected was removed after staff decided it was too puny.

Raimondo said she wasn’t sure why the tree had made national headlines.

“If it gives people a smile and a laugh, that’s a good thing,” she said.

Update hourly