CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Christmas spirit was overflowing Tuesday night at the State Capitol for the annual Joyful Night celebration and tree lighting ceremony.
“It’s been a tradition here in West Virginia,” said Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. “We’re able to showcase all the great talent we have from the marching bands, to our children’s chorus. It’s just a great way to kick off the holiday season.”
Hundreds of people came out for the tree lighting and to listen to the wide variety of music. Susan Smith was one of them.
“See the Christmas trees, see everybody come out, be together and listen to our bands,” she said.
Smith mainly came out to listen to her daughter play in the Capital High School Marching Band, but adds that it is a special event.
“I love listening to the music,” she said. “I’m glad the capitol actually lets the kids from different bands, dances, singing, everything come out and join in on it.”
It was the first time attending the celebration for Barboursville resident Steve Flowhouse, who came out to watch his kids in the Cabell Midland High School Marching Band. He was impressed.
“I think the tree is gorgeous and I thought the entire event was just very nice and a good way to start the season,” he said.
Princeton Senior High School Marching Band, the Martin Luther King Jr. Male Chorus and the Appalachian Children’s Chorus were also among the numerous musical groups that entertained the crowd along with Governor Tomblin and First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin.
The Appalachian Children’s Cantare Chorus of Southern West Virginia made its first appearance in the celebration and 12-year-old member Haley Baker said she made a lasting memory.
“I thought it was a wonderful experience to get to meet the Governor and I love singing here even though it was cold,” she said. “It was pretty fun.”
Baker added that she will remember the night for the rest of her life.
The nights events involved tree lightings in both the North and South Plaza, the presentation of the Children’s Holiday Tree in the Capitol Rotundra and the announcing of the First Lady’s Christmas ornament winners, the lighting of the Military & First Responders Recognition Trees in the Governor’s Reception Room and the reading of “Twas The Night Before Christmas” by the Governor and First Lady in the Governor’s Mansion.
Tomblin said it’s just a wonderful event to be a part of.
“When you see all the proud parents with their kids who do a fantastic job, you know, it makes you proud to be a West Virginian,” he adds.
But in addition to spending time with family members and friends, Tomblin reminds residents that the season is also about helping others.
“Let’s think about helping each other in West Virginia,” he said. “Those who are less fortunate, lets make sure they have a good meal and give them a little something.”
The program and reception honored the state’s first responders, military members, their families and veterans.