CHARLESTON — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin announced last week that the first family will welcome West Virginians to the annual Joyful Night celebration and tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston.
The evening’s program and reception will honor the state’s military members, their families and veterans. All events are free and open to the public.
As part of the festivities, the First Family encourages attendees to bring a new unwrapped toy for the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots campaign.
“The evening’s celebrations will welcome friends from near and far to embrace the spirit of the season,” Gov. Tomblin said. “Joanne and I have experienced the rewards of giving many times, and we encourage all West Virginians to rejoice in the season by donating to charitable organizations like the Marines’ Toys for Tots.”
Events will begin at the North Plaza of the Capitol with musical selections by the Cabell Midland High School Marching Knights, the “State Marching Honor Band of the Year”, and the Appalachian Children’s Chorus Cantare Choir from Southern West Virginia.
The West Virginia Air National Guard will post the colors, followed by the singing of the National Anthem by the VIPs of Capital High School and the Pledge of Allegiance, led by West Virginia’s only living Medal of Honor Recipient, Chief Warrant Officer (Ret.) Woody Williams.
The first family will light the tree, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Ray Fewell of Winfield.
Visitors will proceed to the South Plaza of the Capitol where the Philip Barbour High School Band, the “Pride of Barbour County” will perform and the tree donated by Mr. and Mrs. Al Tolliver of Danese will be lit as the governor and first lady pay tribute to our veterans and military families.
The first floor Rotunda of the Capitol will feature a holiday tree decorated with handmade ornaments created by school children throughout the state as well as a musical performance by the Martin Luther King Jr. Male Chorus.
The annual U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots donation site will be located in the rotunda.
This year’s Military Recognition tree will be showcased in the Governor’s Reception room and will feature photos of loved ones and friends who have served or are serving in the military. During their visit, attendees are invited to create holiday cards to send to our troops serving overseas.
The Governor’s Mansion will be open to visitors during Joyful Night. In keeping with tradition, the governor and first lady will read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Visitors will have the opportunity to experience musical performances by the Appalachian Children’s Chorus and a soloist from the Governor’s School of Arts, in addition to viewing the second annual ArtisTree, showcasing handmade ornaments from West Virginia artists and artisans.
Finally, visitors can enjoy light refreshment at the Culture Center where the “Mountainaires” Barber Shop Choir will perform concluding the evening’s events.
For more information about the Joyful Night activities, contact Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History at 304-558-0220.