71st Annual Capitol Lighting Ceremony slated for Dec.5

LITTLE ROCK, AR—Secretary of State Charlie Daniels today announced the schedule for the 2009 Capitol holiday festivities, which includes the traditional lighting of the Arkansas State Capitol.

In its 71st year, the seasonal celebration kicks off Saturday, December 5 with the annual Capitol Lighting Ceremony.  Starting at 4:00 pm, refreshments and craft projects for children will be available on the Capitol’s front lawn.  At the conclusion of the Big Jingle Jubilee Downtown Holiday Parade around 5:30 pm, Secretary Daniels and Easter Seals representatives will illuminate the 300,000 lights outlining the State Capitol.

The Jernigan State Christmas Tree will not be lit this year in an effort to reduce stress on the 68 year old tree.  The Eastern Red Cedar has been added to the Arkansas Famous and Historic Tree register because of its association with former Secretary of State George Jernigan who planted the tree on the north side of the State Capitol’s main entrance in 1976.

A spectacular fireworks show will cap off the lighting ceremony.  Afterward, visitors can enter the Capitol to experience the winter wonderland of decorations and enjoy the seasonal sounds of the Top of the Rock Chorus.  As always, Santa Claus will be on hand to visit with children of all ages.

Deck the Halls

Throughout the season, the Capitol building will hold special holiday hours from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm on weekdays, and 10:00 am to 9:00 pm on weekends to allow visitors extra time to take in the sights and sounds of the season.

Bemis Tree Service will be delivering the Capitol Rotunda Christmas tree before noon on Tuesday, December 1.  Donated by Mrs. and Dr. Robert Cole, the Leyland Cypress will be harvested from Tom’s Christmas Tree Farm in St. Francis County.   The tree will be adorned with hand-painted globe ornaments depicting a unique scene from each of the state’s 75 counties.

Families will find an assortment of holiday vignettes to serve as backdrops for photographs, including a frosty bridge in the first floor rotunda and ribbon-lined marble staircases.

The 2009 State Capitol ornament features the Rotunda Christmas Tree flanked by two of the red and gold “Joy” banners which decorate the second floor rotunda each holiday season.  Replicating in fine detail the most distinctive and beautiful design elements of the Arkansas State Capitol, the series of collectible ornaments are available for purchase online and in the Capitol Gift Shop.

Little Bricks, Big Vision

The State Capitol’s 2009 holiday exhibit features four intricate tableaux painstakingly assembled with Lego® construction toys by Thomas Mears of Bryant.  These little bricks have entertained and inspired the imaginations of children since becoming commercially-available in the 1930s. The scenes on display include a cityscape, a space port and a pirate port, as well as a fantasyland rendered in Duplo®, the larger building blocks designed for younger construction engineers.  Little Bricks, Big Vision will be on view in the Capitol’s first floor galleries from December 5 through January 2.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance

Secretary Daniels will host the Annual Pearl Harbor Day Remembrance on Monday, December 7 at 3:00 pm in the second floor rotunda of the Capitol.  The public is invited to attend this special ceremony commemorating those who have served our country in times of war and reminding Arkansans to hope for peace.  Blue lights above the bronze doors of the Capitol spell out “Peace” in tribute to our veterans.

Sounds of the Season

More than 130 school choirs and dance troupes will perform in the Capitol rotunda from December 7 through December 18 on weekdays from 9:00 am-3:00 pm.  For additional details on scheduled performances and other holiday events at the State Capitol, visit the Secretary of State’s holiday webpage at www.sos.arkansas.gov/holidays2009.