Joy filled the air as hundreds gathered at the Wisconsin State Capitol for the annual Holiday Tree lighting ceremony Tuesday.
The 30-foot Balsam fir was brought down to Madison from Meyer’s Castle Tree Farm located in Medford. The tree is adorned with roughly 2,000 multicolored, energy-saving LED lights and handmade ornaments made by public and private school students throughout the state.
The ornaments match this year’s theme, “Wisconsin Waters,” which Gov. Tony Evers said pays homage to Wisconsin’s maritime history, and traditional Indigenous hunting and fishing. The state has more than 15,000 lakes, 800 miles of Great Lakes shoreline and 84,000 miles of rivers and streams, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
“Whether you live near the Great Lakes or on the shoreline, or the cool region near the mighty Mississippi, or near any of the countless rivers, lakes and watering holes in between, we have a connection and a story to share about Wisconsin’s vast and valuable waters,” Evers said at Tuesday’s event.
Donned in Santa hats and Christmas sweaters, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra serenaded the crowd before the start of the event while children and adults alike moved about to get a closer look at the tree.
When it was time to light the Holiday Tree, Evers led the countdown from five. Once the crowd shouted “one,” the lights dimmed and the tree lit up the room. After a moment of silence, the crowd erupted in applause.
Outgoing Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Lt. Gov.-elect Sara Rodriguez both joined Evers at the tree lighting ceremony.
“So many people get to be a part of the tree right here in the Capitol,” Barnes said. “That is what [the tree] should represent here in the State Capitol — the vibrancy and diversity of the state. All the things people have to offer are great, and what better way to commemorate that than through the holiday season?”
Anna Kleiber is a state news reporter for The Daily Cardinal.