Christmas at the Capitol

By Gov. Dennis Daugaard

South Dakotans have always known how to make Christmas special. In 1881 the people of Aberdeen decided to celebrate the holiday season by putting up a community Christmas tree. The locals thought the tree would be a nice way to commemorate their first Christmas as a community. All was going according to plan until the railroad agent who had been commissioned to supply the community’s Christmas tree showed up with a disappointing delivery. He arrived with a tree that was a measly five feet tall.
Determined to build a more extravagant display, the people of the town gathered in a local store at the corner of Third and Main. They found a large piece of timber and nailed it to the floor and ceiling. Then they attached narrow strips of wood and pieces of evergreen from the real tree to the large piece of timber. They topped off their clever construction with strings of popcorn and cranberries. Thanks to their imagination, the Aberdeen community ended up with a much larger, grander tree than the original.
One hundred thirty-four years later, another group of South Dakotans has been using their creativity to build a special Christmas display. The decorations are slightly more elaborate than the ones in that Aberdeen store. The Capitol display consists of nearly 100 trees – the tallest of which is 29 feet – and the theme for the decorations this year is “Christmas around the World.”
Many volunteers have devoted precious hours to decorate the Capitol building for the holidays. As always, they have done a great job.
When I walk into the Capitol building each morning from now until after Christmas Day, I’ll be greeted by the rich aroma of pine trees and the sparkling reflection of Christmas lights on the ornaments that decorate those trees. Just walking down the hallway puts me in the Christmas spirit.
I hope you will find time this holiday season to come to Pierre to experience Christmas at the Capitol. The display is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week through Saturday, Dec. 26.
I hope to see you there!

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