READING, Pa. — Christmas in July might be a marketing gimmick, but a Christmas tree debate in July is serious business in one eastern Pennsylvania city.

The Reading Eagle reports city officials and civic groups are already discussing what might be done to avoid last year's "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree controversy.

The tree became a focal point because it was relatively spindly and misshapen. But the criticism became a rallying point when Reading treated its tree like the scrawny one featured in the animated special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." The city even wrapped a blanket around the tree's base and adorned it with a single red ball.

City Councilwoman Donna Reed is opposing suggestions by some that the city could avoid the fuss, and save money, with an artificial tree instead.

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