If you want to see the Christmas season in full display, make time to visit your state capitol for the annual displays created for Christmas at the Capitol. Each morning, as I walk into the Capitol Building, I am greeted by the rich aroma of pine trees and the sparkling reflection of Christmas lights on the ornaments that decorate those trees.

This season marks the 37th year of Christmas at the Capitol. The idea was spearheaded by Dottie Howe of Pierre in 1981. That first year there were 12 decorated trees. In 1988, Christmas at the Capitol organizers started inviting groups and organizations from throughout the state to send decorations for 30 Capitol trees. The popularity of the Christmas tree display kept growing and growing, and by 1997 groups were decorating 50 trees.

This year the theme is “The Colors of Christmas” and we have over 90 trees in our display. The largest tree, a 27.5-foot Colorado Blue Spruce, has been decorated by the Fort Pierre Bicentennial Committee and was donated by Mary and Iver Finnesand of Grenville. After being trimmed, the tree stands at 24.5 feet in the rotunda.

In addition to the beautiful decorations, we also have music. At noon and 5 p.m. each day I can hear the Christmas music in the Rotunda from my office. We have groups from all over the state who come to offer music: High school bands, children’s choirs, orchestras, piano students, and soloists. One Saturday we even had the Nordic Nimble Feet Norwegian Dance group from Brookings perform.

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Many volunteers have devoted precious hours to decorate the Capitol building for the holidays. As always, they have done an excellent job.

I hope you will find time this holiday season to come to experience Christmas at the Capitol. The display is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days each week through Tuesday, Dec. 26, and there is no admission charge.

I hope to see you there!

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