July 31, 2014

Capitol Christmas tree is lit

2013 Capitol Christmas tree (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

2013 Capitol Christmas tree (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Tree official tree-lighting takes place on a Thursday this year in two separate ceremonies at the state Capitol.

A small musical ensemble and just a handful of onlookers gather in the rotunda as Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp lights up the 30-foot tall Christmas tree that was donated by Jim Draeger of Antigo. “More than 950,000 trees are harvested from tree farms — Christmas tree farms — in Wisconsin every year, which makes us number five in the nation for Christmas tree production.”

Wisconsin forest products add nearly $20 billion a year to Wisconsin’s economy. In this season of giving, Stepp recognizes Wisconsin tree growers for providing the natural resource. “It’s really wonderful to take a moment to appreciate a few of the very many gifts that we often take for granted from trees, and to give thanks to sustainable forest management practices that these gifts will be available for our children and grandchildren and generations to come.”

The holiday tree is illuminated with energy-saving LEDs; a train encircles the base; and ornaments made by school children decorate the branches.

Governor Scott Walker helped flip the switch in an early morning ceremony. Displays in the Capitol rotunda include two nativity scenes, a winter solstice display placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and a large menorah.