Local news

Lawmaker wants ‘Christmas’ back in Capitol ‘Holiday Tree’

THURSDAY, DEC. 8, 2005

OLYMPIA – Calling on Gov. Christine Gregoire to “get in the Christmas spirit,” a Republican lawmaker wants the statehouse’s 30-foot Noble fir officially declared a Christmas tree.

“This is not a ‘holiday tree,’ ” said state Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane. “It’s a Christmas tree.”

He also wants “Merry Christmas” signs posted nearby. Ahern went on Seattle talk radio Wednesday, urging listeners to call Gregoire.

The fir is the “Capitol Holiday Kids’ Tree.” It was named by the Association of Washington Business, which organizes the annual tree- lighting and gift drive for needy kids.

About 1990, association president Don Brunell said some lawmakers objected to a statehouse Christmas tree. “So we said OK, to be inclusive for everybody, we’ll call it the Capitol Holiday Kids’ Tree,” he said

To Ahern, the tree’s name is a watering-down of Christian traditions, like removing “In God we trust” from U.S. coins.

“We’re a Judeo-Christian nation. Of course we should have ‘Merry Christmas’ on signs there,” he said.

A spokeswoman said Gregoire won’t rename the tree.

“But the governor wanted me to point out that she has a Christmas tree in her office and in her home,” said spokeswoman Althea Cawley-Murphree.


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