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After backlash, Dedham officials announce they will have Christmas trees at libraries

Dedham officials on Monday reversed a controversial decision not to put up a Christmas tree outside the local library after a backlash that included online threats and bullying.

“At the Dedham Public Library we do our best to respect the wide variety of viewpoints and beliefs in our community, including those who choose to celebrate Christmas and other winter holidays,” library director Amber Moroney wrote on the town’s Facebook page Monday. “To be clear, there is no ban on Christmas at the Dedham library.”

The initial decision not to display a tree was made as “the result of an ongoing review of all our holiday decorations and displays that started back in the spring,” Moroney wrote.

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News of the decision spread quickly after Lisa Desmond, manager of the Dedham Public Library’s Endicott branch, wrote about it on Dec. 2.

“I found out today that my beautiful library will not have its Christmas tree this year,” Desmond wrote. “Zero explanation. When I asked, I was told ‘people’ were made uncomfortable last year looking at it. I’m sorry WHAT? In my 28 years at the Dedham Public Library, I have never heard a negative comment. We have celebrated and included everyone in our community.”

On Dec. 8, Dedham officials wrote on Facebook that controversy over the decision had created a polarizing environment that “turned neighbor against neighbor and has threatened the safety and well-being of community members and staff.”

On Monday, Moroney said the fallout was “unfortunate” and that trees would be put up at both library locations in town.

“What has played out on social media is unfortunate, it has negatively impacted our staff and the community, and frankly, transpired before we had even started our seasonal decorating,” she wrote. “As we finish decorating for this holiday season, Christmas trees will be put up at both locations.”

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“Moving forward, we will continue to review decorations and displays to ensure they are welcoming, enriching, and reflective of our entire community,” she added.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.