Statehouse Christmas tree dies

By: The Associated Press/ABC6 News

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Christmas tree in the rotunda at the Rhode Island Statehouse is dead.

Piles of needles were blanketing the area below the tree Friday, beneath several bare branches. When touched, needles dropped instantly. The tree was sitting in a large container of water, also filled with needles.

The governor’s office says there are no plans to replace it. The donated tree was put up in November.

Trouble with the Statehouse tree has become something of a Rhode Island tradition.

In 2005, the tree shed all its needles after it was doused in fire retardant. Former Gov. Lincoln Chafee called it a holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree, leading to angry protests.

Last year, the first tree selected was removed after staff decided it was too puny.

The owner of the West Greenwich tree farm offered to replace the dying State House evergreen. John Leyden, of Big John Leyden Christmas Tree Farm, says he is saddened by the fact that the tree has been made fun of in national headlines.

©WLNE-TV / ABC6 2017