Concerns rising over location of Evansville's Christmas tree - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Concerns rising over location of Evansville's Christmas tree

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The tree lit for the first time this season outside the Civic Center downtown. The tree lit for the first time this season outside the Civic Center downtown.

Controversy is lighting up in Evansville as city leaders kick off the holiday season. 

A round of applause took place Wednesday night as the city's official Christmas tree was brought to life, but for one Vanderburgh County Commissioner, he's taking issue not over what this tree stands for, but where it's standing.

"I've always been concerned about a Christmas tree being on public property," Commissioner Steve Melcher said. 

Melcher says it's risky business these days to place what some might consider a symbol of a religious holiday on government property.

"It just brings one more thing like the crosses did, you know, down on the river. So why put ourselves in that position," Melcher asked.

For many years, the city's official Christmas tree stood near Second and Main Streets. But two years ago, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke got permission from the Building Authority to place it in front of the Civic Center.

Despite Melcher's concerns, Winnecke says he has no plans of moving it.

"I would say, 'Bah hambug," Winnecke tells 14 News. "It's probably the greatest symbol of the season for people of all faiths and all beliefs. I think it's great."

"It's okay on public property," Angela Spasojevich said.

Spasojevich was in the crowd at Wednesday's tree lighting. She says she's Jewish and not offended at all.

"In New York City, we have a big Menorah that we light up and everything like that. I think that having lights up and stuff, it's decorative and it uplifts people's spirits. I think this is a good location for it," Spasojevich said.

But Commissioner Melcher says he's just trying to do what he thinks is right for the community. In his opinion, putting the tree in that spot is not right.

"If you go through history and find out what the history of the Christmas tree really is, you wouldn't want it there anyway," Melcher said.

The mayor says he has no intention of moving this tree. He says it will be there through the first of the year.

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