CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Rain and dropping temperatures did not stop around 100 people from attending Tuesday’s tree lighting ceremony at the State Capitol, in which the switch was flipped to not only turn on the white lights strung around the 28-foot tall douglas fir, but also start the holiday season in West Virginia.

The tree lighting — just one of the multiple events in this year’s Joyful Night celebration — marked the first for Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice.

“Just think about what this time of year is all about,” the governor said. “It’s about joy and light and the birthday of our savior, Jesus. What more in the world could we ever want than the best holiday of all the year that’s coming in not very long?”

Justice continued, saying there was “nothing more spectacular than the simple joy of a small child’s smile.”

The Justice family will soon experience that; Justice said Jill Justice, his and Cathy Justice’s daughter, was getting ready to have her first child.

“Just think of all the blessings each and every one of us has,” the governor said.

The Spring Valley and Cabell Midland high school marching bands performed a series of holiday songs, as did Appalachian Children’s Choir. State Division of Culture and History commissioner Randall Reid-Smith sung “White Christmas” before the Justices flipped the switch to turn on the tree’s lights.

This year’s tree was donated by Walker and Rita Pauley of Elkview.

Other events as part of this year’s Joyful Night was the annual reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and recognizing Gold Star families.

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