‘I was insulted’: Fake Christmas tree at R.I. Capitol offends tree farmer

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR/CNN) - For the first time in recent history, a fake Christmas tree is on display at Rhode Island’s State House and it is causing controversy.

“I was insulted,” said Tim Leyden, the owner of Big John Leyden’s Tree Farm in Rhode Island.

Leyden has donated trees to the State House in the past and says the use of the fake tree is a slap in the face to family farms.

“The State House has always had a live, huge, beautiful tree where people gather around,” he said. “And it’s the smell, it’s the aroma, the scent that tree gives off. An artificial tree just can’t do that.”

Gov. Gina Raimondo says that real trees have not lasted through the holiday and end up drying up, dying, or needing to be replaced.

“For whatever reason, we’ve gotten in trouble with the fire marshal in the past with the real tree and so many lights, so this year we just decided to play it safe,” she said.

Some have suggested putting a real, local tree outside the State House, but Leyden refuses.

“I will not be second fiddle to a fake tree in the State House," he said.

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