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Rhode Island’s governor sets State House tree lighting event

November 28, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s governor is hosting the annual holiday celebration and tree lighting at the State House.

Gov. Dan McKee said the festivities will take place at 5 p.m. on Dec. 2 outside, on the south lawn of the State House. The tree will be lit at 6:15 p.m.

Two Christmas trees will be on display at the State House. A 12-foot Douglas fir from Henry’s Christmas Tree Farm in Scituate will be outside the State House and an 18-foot artificial tree will be inside the State House. The Douglas fir was purchased with donations from several local businesses and the artificial tree was purchased with funds from the 2017 National Governors Association conference, McKee said.

Keeping a real tree alive inside the State House has proven challenging in the past. In 2005, the tree turned brown and shed all its needles. In 2017 the tree died 10 days before Christmas. The governor’s office purchased an artificial tree in 2019.

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After the tree is lit, McKee and First Lady Susan McKee will read “The Night Before Christmas.” The celebration features performances by Billy Gilman, the Cumberland Clef Singers, the Paul Cuffee Lower School Chorus and the Rhode Island Army National Guard’s “Governor’s Own” 88th Army Band.

Unwrapped toys will be collected to benefit local children in need. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus are also scheduled to appear to take socially-distanced photos with children.