PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — State officials kicked off the Christmas season Thursday with the annual State House tree lighting.
The 16-foot Balsam fir was lit up around 6:20 p.m. The tree was donated by the Green Tree Farm and Nursery, which is part of the RI Tree Growers Association.
After lighting the tree, Gov. Gina Raimondo and other state officials were planning to light another tree – dedicated to honoring our servicemen and women.
Rhode Island’s Heroe’s Tree is decorated with mementos and messages to loved ones who serve our country or veterans who have already served.
“With everything going on in the world, it’s nice to remember the people that have helped us and served for us,” said Dana Wilson, executive assistant to Gov. Raimondo.
Wilson decorated the Heroe’s Tree this year – just as she has done in the past under former Governor’s Almond and Cacieri.
According to Wilson, she puts up the ornaments families have created.
“Looking at them, it pulls at your heartstrings a little bit,” she said. “Pause for a moment – because everything we have is because of these people that have served.”
This year, the Heroe’s Tree is standing near the September 11th memorial, where a military band was expected to play after the lighting.
Officials are asking for more ornaments to decorate the symbolic tree, but Wilson said the ones that are already there left a mark on her.
“You can’t really choose one over the other,” she said of the ornaments. “They’re all significant in their own special way.”
Before the lighting of the State House tree, both the handbell choir from Nathan Bishop Middle School and the Italian choir from Esek Hopkins Middle School performed.
Santa and Mrs. Claus were also on hand to take pictures with children.
Steve Nielsen was live from the State House all night. See his reports below: