2013-12-12 / Local & State

Christmas Tree Lights Up Pa. Capitol Rotunda

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania’s Capitol took on a more festive look Thursday with an annual ceremony to turn on the lights on an enormous Christmas tree.

Gov. Tom Corbett hit the switch on a 20-foot Douglas fir donated by a Christmas tree farm in Lehighton.

This year’s theme is “Home for the Holidays,” honoring soldiers serving away from home and those back from deployment.

The governor said wars may change but a soldier’s desire to be with their family – particularly at this time of year – is eternal.

The event included an impromptu moment of silence to honor former South African president Nelson Mandela, whose death had just been announced.

The Rotunda was packed with servicemen and women, children and government workers. The ceremony began with a nondenominational prayer by an Episcopal minister and featured carols by students from Wyoming Valley West Middle School in Luzerne County.

The tree is decorated with 800 lights and more than 300 ornaments made by 67 senior centers in the state.

Pennsylvania is fourth among states with 1.2 million trees cut annually and second with 1,200 tree farms.

The tree will be lit through Jan. 8.

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