Sara: “Good afternoon folks and welcome to 2022 holiday tree lighting celebration. I am Sara Rodriguez, your lieutenant governor elect.”
The holiday tree is a 30 foot Balsam fir from northern Wisconsin, towering over the Capitol rotunda. It’s draped with 2,000 lights and ornaments made by elementary school student, and a train chugs around the base of the tree.
This year’s theme is Wisconsin Waters, and the ornaments made by elementary-schoolers are intended to celebrate Wisconsin’s waterways.
Governor Evers says water is an integral part of the state.
Tony: “Here in Wisconsin we pride ourselves on our state’s natural resources, including air and freshwaters.”
Governor Tony Evers and lieutenant governor elect Sara Rodriguez were joined by members from the Ho Chunk nation, the Wisconsin Youth symphony, a speaker representing the Dairy Industry, and hundreds of families and members of the public.
Members of the Ho Chunk nation performed several dances, recognizing the significance of the Ho-Chunk Nation, and honoring their flag and veterans.
Then Ho Chunk elder Janice Rice spoke about Wisconsin waters.
Janice: “I’m here today to honor Wisconsin waters. We’re all here in honor of the freshwater that we have throughout Wisconsin.”
After the dance and drum performance, Tony Evers led the lighting of the tree with a countdown.
Many of the students who attended the lighting had opinions on the tree.
Taylor: “The lights are too saturated.”
That’s Taylor. But his companion Shelly enjoyed the ceremony.
Shelly: “It’s beautiful. I loved the dancing, it was a great experience overall.”
Students Elijah and Samantha also enjoyed their experience.
Elijah: “it was cool”
Samantha: “I really enjoyed the dances and the songs. It was definitely something new, I’ve never been here before while this tree lighting thing was happening and it was a lot of fun.”
The “holiday tree,” has been a point of contention over the last few winter seasons, though not this winter. Governor Evers opted for it to be called a “holiday tree” in 2019 to be more inclusive. The Republican led legislature objected to this, saying it should be called the more traditional “Christmas tree.”
And in 2020, two Republican Representatives put up their own short-lived tree in protest, even though the Capitol was closed to the public during the pandemic. That tree was eventually removed.
The capitol tree will stay lit this month through December 29, after which it will be taken down in preparation for the inauguration in January.
Reporting for W-O-R-T news, I’m Abigail Leavins.
Photo courtesy of Abigail Leavins