Students help Oklahoma governor welcome holiday season

About 1,500 students show up at the Oklahoma Capitol to decorate artificial trees throughout the building. Many stay to watch the governor preside over the lighting of a 30-foot artificial tree on the south steps outside the Capitol.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: November 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm •  Published: November 30, 2012

The holiday season has arrived at the state Capitol.

Gov. Mary Fallin, with the first gentleman and Santa Claus standing nearby, capped off a day of decorating and festive activities by lighting the state Capitol Christmas tree Thursday evening on the south steps outside the Capitol.

An estimated 1,500 students decorated 36 small Christmas trees throughout the Capitol a couple of hours before more than 2,000 LED lights were lit on the 30-foot-tall artificial tree.

In addition, 100 evergreens in the State Capitol Park were lighted. The trees were donated by the Weyerhaeuser Co. Foundation.

Before the ceremony, Fallin said her Christmas wish for Oklahomans is for everyone to live in peace and happiness.

“My hope is that next year will be even a better year for everyone in Oklahoma,” she said.

Fallin said she and her husband, Wade Christensen, will spend Christmas Eve at the Governor's Mansion, with as many as 70 family members arriving early and staying late.

“Each of our family members brings their favorite dish, and we love to have a big family dinner,” she said. “We'll have a casual evening, watch the different Christmas shows and talk a lot.”

Christmas Day will be a little quieter, with just the immediate first family members gathering at the mansion, she said.

Tree review

Earlier Fallin and state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi looked at the each of the trees placed along four floors of the Capitol.

“It's fun to go look at the individual trees and see the creativity, the imagination,” Fallin said.

Barresi must have enjoyed seeing the tree decorated by Deer Creek Middle School. At the top of the tree sets an A, which eighth-grader Mollie Patrick said was the score her school received from the new A-F evaluation for public schools that was released last month by the state Board of Education. Some school superintendents and teachers have been critical of the grading system.