Mayor Nutter Lights City Hall 'Christmas Tree'

Philadelphia's Christmas tree sits below the "Christmas Village" sign - with the word 'Christmas' restored - after removal of the word Monday caused a public outcry. Mayor Nutter led a tree lighting ceremony Thursday evening. (Sarah J. Glover / Staff Photographer)

Standing steps away from the rehung "Christmas Village" sign, Mayor Nutter tonight officially lit the towering evergreen tree in Dilworth Plaza outside City Hall -- and didn't shy away from the word Christmas.

"We're here together for the annual lighting of the Philadelphia Christmas tree," Nutter said to wild applause.

The city has been the center of a national controversy since Monday when the organizer of a traditional German-style Christmas market in Dilworth Plaza took down the word "Christmas" from two light-festooned archways leading into the village. The letters were taken down after Managing Director Richard Negrin told the organizer that he had received complaints from residents and city workers.

But a Daily News story on the move went viral, prompting complaints from around the country. Nutter last night said he asked the organizer to put the letters back. And today, he even managed to joke about it.

"It takes a village, a Christmas village, to bring a city together," Nutter said.

Just how Nutter would refer to the tree had been unclear. Asked about it yesterday he had called it the "City Hall tree."

If you'd like to read the mayor's remarks -- as prepared for delivery -- click here.

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