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State Capitol Tree Lighted for the 78th time

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver kicked-off the holiday season at the 78th Annual State Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony, themed A Season of Giving.

Due to an earlier forecast of bad weather, the outdoor event was been cancelled and the ceremony was held in the State Capitol Rotunda, standing room only.

Wyatt Iles (pronounced Isles), of Pomona, California, was selected from the more than 245,000 children and adults served by the Department of Developmental Services to help the Governor light the tree. Wyatt is an eight year old boy who at the age of three was diagnosed with Autism and began receiving services from the San Gabriel Pomona Regional Center. This was the 27th year that a child with a developmental disability participated in the ceremony.

Grammy winners Brian McKnight and Thelma Houston performed.

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk joined Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Maria Shriver tonight.


The Christmas tree is decorated with 7,400 ultra-low-wattage LED lights, and 1,940 ornaments. They were created by DDS’ residents of developmental centers and state-operated community facilities, and consumer artists from the state’s 21 regional centers. Some centers began making ornaments as early as June for this traditional event and use a variety of mediums to create the festive designs.

Thelma Houston sings inside while the tree is being lighted up outside.

The First Lady and the Governor mingled with the crowd on the west steps after the ceremony.

The State Capitol Christmas Tree is on the west side of the building.


SacPress Photos | Kati Garner

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