Christine Stuart photo
Governor’s residence coaster from last year’s holiday party (Christine Stuart photo )

It’s official. There will be no holiday party’s at the governor’s residence this year.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell cancelled two annual holiday parties that she hosts at the Hartford residence, which will still be decorated for the holidays and open to the public this weekend.

“It’s because of the current fiscal challenges the state faces,” Chris Cooper, Rell’s spokesman said Monday.

Rell notified lawmakers of the cancellation last week in an email. It was not immediately known how much money has been spent on these parties in the past.

Derek Slap, spokesman for Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said Democratic leaders definitely understand and agree with the governor’s decision.

Rell’s holiday party with the media has been downsized to a luncheon, instead of the catered affair at the West End mansion.

Hosting the holiday party at the governor’s residence has been a tradition for decades.

The last time the annual bash was cancelled, according to Capitol insiders, was in 2002 or 2003 when the state was running a deficit, not unlike it is this year.

The halls of the governor’s residence will still be decked for the holidays and the public will still have an opportunity to tour the home 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, Dec. 5 and 6th and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7.

Free recipe cards from Rell will be handed out during the Open House and the 2008 Holiday Ornament will be on sale at a cost of $20 to benefit the Governor’s Residence Conservancy. This year’s ornament depicts The Genius of Connecticut, a statue currently on display in the State Capitol. 

“This free open house gives families from across the state the opportunity to see the Governor’s Residence decorated for the holidays,” Rell said in a press release. ” I urge everyone to take a few minutes to stop in and say hello.”

The organizations that helped decorate the governor’s residence this year include, Lux, Bond, and Green, Moscarillos Garden Center, West Hartford, New England Home, Connecticut Florists Association, Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association, Connecticut Nursery & Landscape Association, Connecticut Christmas Tree Growers Association, and Green Growers Association. The “Farmers Cow” provided hot cocoa to all the volunteers who helped decorate the residence.