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California’s holiday tree lighting ceremony goes virtual due to possible protests


This year’s holiday tree lighting ceremony at the California Capitol will not be held in person because of the possibility of protests, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said Tuesday.

The event Wednesday in Sacramento will instead be virtual and recorded, Newsom’s office said.

“As we continue to see protests across the country impacting the safety of events of all scales — and for the safety and security of all participating members and guests including children and families — the ceremony this year will be virtual,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

The type of protest was not specified. There have been demonstrations across the U.S. surrounding Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza since the surprise Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the subsequent war.

NBC affiliate KCRA of Sacramento reported that multiple protests had been planned near the state Capitol.

A pro-Palestinian group had said it planned a march by the Capitol on Tuesday to coincide with the tree-lighting ceremony.

The Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights said it planned a march that it called “No Celebrations While Silent on Genocide.”

A holiday market had also been planned to go with the tree lighting in Sacramento, but the Midtown Association late last month said it would be canceled because of protests across the country.

This year’s Capitol holiday tree lighting is the state’s 92nd. It was also held virtually in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, when in-person gatherings of all kinds were discouraged around the world.

At New York City’s Rockefeller Center Tree lighting last week, a large group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered near the event in midtown Manhattan, but there were no major disruptions to the in-person ceremony there.

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