Councilman resigns after vote for 'Christmas' tree lighting name change

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Monday, December 7, 2015
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Mallory Hoff has the story from Roselle Park.

ROSELLE PARK -- There is controversy in New Jersey over the word "Christmas" - city councilwoman Charlene Storey resigned just minutes after a vote that changed the town's tree lighting to a "Christmas" tree lighting.

Storey broke the news to Eyewitness News that she is in fact rescinding that letter of resignation. She met with the mayor on Sunday evening in his office, where they had a conversation. They came to the conclusion that she will continue her work with the council, but a committee will discuss the decision further.

The official name of the ceremony taking place was a 'holiday tree' lighting ceremony - that is what it has been called for the last 20 years. Now, from this point forward, it will be called a 'Christmas tree' lighting ceremony. Roselle Park mayor Carl A. Hokanson told Eyewitness News that he wanted to bring the word 'Christmas' back into the equation. He brought the issue up for a vote, and the council voted 4-2 in favor of using the word 'Christmas'. Storey then submitted her letter of resignation the very next morning.

"This is using municipal funds to have an event - the tree lighting event and so on. I think if you're using municipal funds, you have to be careful to be representing as large a part as the population as possible," said Storey.

"For 64 years of my life, it was a Christmas tree. That's what it is. I don't mean to offend anybody in any way, shape or form, but it is a Christmas tree," says Mayor Hokanson, "It's not a holiday tree, it's not a pear tree - it's a Christmas tree, and this is the season."

The ceremony will be called a Christmas tree lighting on December 11th, and this point forward, but Councilwoman Storey says this needs to be a topic of conversation, a discussion she will have with the committee moving forward.