|Celebration included lighting of State Christmas Tree, live performances, and holiday readings
|CHARLESTON, WV — Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice hosted the annual Joyful Night Celebration on the South Steps of the West Virginia State Capitol yesterday evening, which included the lighting of the West Virginia State Christmas Tree, several performances and readings, and recognition for this year’s student ornament contest winners.
|“I wish you all the happiest of Christmas, as this is a season to come together and celebrate,” Gov. Justice said. “I have to say, this tree is truly amazing. We have had some great trees in the past, but this one is the best I’ve seen during my time in office. It perfectly embodies what West Virginia is all about. These decorations and lights truly represent our state’s Christrmas spirit. What an amazing sight.”
|State Christmas Tree
The event culminated with Gov. Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice illuminating the West Virginia State Christmas Tree, which was hand-selected by the Governor. The magnificent tree is a 50 ft Balsam Fir specially harvested from Randolph County’s Kumbrabow State Forest, with assistance from The West Virginia Division of Forestry and the West Virginia Division of Highways.
The beautiful decorations were designed by the West Virginia Department of Tourism and placed by the West Virginia General Services Division.
|Performances and readings
Before the tree lighting ceremony, attendees gathered at Lincoln Plaza were entertained by seasonal tunes from the Capital High School Voices In Perfection Show Choir, the Barboursville Elementary Choir, known as the “Pirate Crew,” and the Philip Barbour High School Marching Colts.
The celebration also featured holiday-themed readings, including an excerpt from “The Mountain Christmas” by Braylee Smolder from Winfield High School. The Greenbrier East High School Lady Spartans provided a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
Rabbi Joe Blair of Temple Israel Congregation blessed and lit the Hanukkah Menorah. Additionally, Reverend Jonathan Pinson, a West Virginia House of Delegates member, made notable contributions.
|First Lady’s Student Ornament Competition
The winners of the First Lady Student Ornament Competition were announced during the celebration.
The competition is a holiday tradition encouraging students across the state to submit ornaments around a particular theme. This year, the First Lady asked students to help “Deck the Halls with Doggy Paws” by creating a Christmas ornament that honors one of our Friends With Paws school therapy dogs or Babydog.
The winners will be displayed in the Great Hall of the Culture Center in Charleston for the rest of the season, along with the other submitted ornaments. The First Lady Student Ornament Competition had 164 entries.
“Every year, I am so impressed with the creativity our West Virginia students show in designing and making their themed ornaments, and this year did not disappoint, First Lady Justice said. “Thank you to all the students and teachers who sent in ornaments and to all the winners. Great job, and congratulations!”
Each winning class was awarded a $100 gift card to purchase art supplies.
The winners of the four age groups are below:
Ms. Erika Blankenship
2nd Grade Class
Mercer Christian Academy
Ms. Megan Helmick
Aubree Miles, 3rd Grade
Davis-Thomas Elementary School
Ms. Michelle Gearhart
6th Grade Art
Sissonville Middle School
Ms. Elaina Depetro
John Marshall High School
Glen Dale, WV