OKLAHOMA CITY — Governor Mary Fallin and Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister will be joined by schoolchildren from across the state for the lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree.
The lighting ceremony is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 30 on the south steps of the Capitol. The governor will give brief remarks before the 30-foot artificial Christmas tree is lit. The tree, a replica of a Douglas fir, has more than 2,500 energy-saving LED lights. The lighting ceremony will take place about 30 minutes earlier than previous years to accommodate students.
Before the lighting ceremony, more than 700 students are expected to decorate 26 small Christmas trees placed inside the Capitol. The students, ranging in grade level from first to fifth grade, will come from across the state.
New this year, as part of the governor’s Oklahoma Fosters initiative, a group of foster children will be included in the festivities. Foster families and sibling groups, some of whom have been separated from each other, will be able to come back together to decorate a Christmas tree and watch the lighting ceremony. For some of them, this will be their only time to celebrate the holiday season together.
Beginning at 2:45 p.m., Fallin and Hofmeister will walk through the Capitol to look at the trees and talk with the children.
Other activities include storytelling, music, dance, refreshments and a visit from Santa Claus. The mascots for Oklahoma State University, Pistol Pete, and the University of Oklahoma, Boomer and Sooner, will show up about 4:30 p.m. to entertain the children awaiting the lighting ceremony, which is expected to last about 30 minutes.
This year’s emcee is Bobbie Miller, morning news anchor for KWTV-9 in Oklahoma City. The event is sponsored by McDonalds, Manhattan Construction and Weyerhaeuser Co. Foundation.
“The annual lighting of the Capitol’s Christmas tree is a fun way to celebrate the holiday season,” said Fallin. “This is a special time to be with family, and I’m glad that we will have foster children with us this year for this special event. I encourage Oklahomans and visitors to come to the Capitol to see the displays and enjoy the great work done by our children.”
This is the first year for Hofmeister to take part. She was elected last November and took office in January.
“This is a special time of year, particularly through the eyes of children,” Hofmeister said. “The tree-lighting ceremony is a wonderful way to usher in the season and I am honored to share the excitement with schoolchildren across the state.”
Assisting in the lighting of the tree will be Cory and Lana, an Oklahoma City area couple who this year adopted five siblings – Anthony, Shannon, Patric, Liam and Brooklyn – from the state Department of Human Services.*
Unlike previous years, about 100 evergreens in the state Capitol Park will not be lit with Christmas lights. The move is estimated to save at least $2,000 in labor and electricity costs. In addition, outdoor Christmas lights are not being installed on the grounds of the Governor’s Mansion, which will save about $9,000 in labor costs.
The moves are intended to keep with an executive order the governor issued last month asking agency heads to look at reducing nonessential expenses by 10 percent.
“While not a large amount, the money saved will be available for higher priority items,” Fallin said.
Performing artist groups include: Oklahoma Children’s Theatre (storytelling); Harding Fine Arts Academy High School (classical guitar); Carnegie High School Choir, Wildcat Band, Carnegie; Enid High School Marshall Islander Choir; Manyawi World Music Ensemble, Monroe Elementary and Norman High School; Edmond Youth Chorus; Norman High School Jazz Ensemble; and Mariachi Fillmore, Fillmore Elementary, Oklahoma City
The 26 Christmas trees will be displayed by the following schools: Westfall Elementary, Choctaw; Grove Valley Elementary, Deer Creek; West Field Elementary, Edmond; White Rock Elementary; Dibble Elementary; Sequoyah Elementary, Shawnee; Skyline Elementary, Stillwater; Carnegie Elementary; Bixby Northeast Elementary; Jackson Elementary, Pauls Valley; Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, Oklahoma City; Eugene Field Elementary, Oklahoma City; Grandview Elementary, Elk City; Jenks East Intermediate; Tulsa Legacy Charter School; Heavener Elementary; Battiest Elementary; Coyle Elementary; Covington-Douglas Elementary, Covington; Midway Elementary; Sadler Arts Academy, Muskogee; Pond Creek-Hunter Elementary, Pond Creek; Wyandotte Elementary; Antlers Elementary; Wilson Elementary; and Poteau Upper Elementary.
*EDITOR’S NOTE: The last name of the couple adopting the five children from DHS and their hometown are withheld to protect the family’s privacy.