Event Features Long-Time TV Personality Leeza Gibbons as Master of Ceremonies
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver will kick-off the holiday season by celebrating the 76th annual State Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the West Steps of the State Capitol on Tuesday, December 4, featuring TV personality Leeza Gibbons as Master of Ceremonies. Festivities for the evening will begin at 4:30 p.m. followed by the ceremony at 5:15 p.m., which includes musical performances by The Unity Community Choir and Galena Street East.
“Maria and I wish every Californian a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May this season serve as a reminder that our work is never finished and that the best is yet to come,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “We light this tree as a symbol of the true meaning of Christmas which is love, prosperity, peace and joy.”
In the spirit of giving, CaliforniaVolunteers will host the Holiday Toy and Book Drive at the 76th Annual California State Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. This year’s toy and book drive recipients are the Boys and Girls Club of Greater San Diego and Orangewood Children’s Foundation of Orange County. Both organizations support children who were affected by the Southern California wildfires. Santa Claus and 30 community volunteers will be collecting new, unwrapped toys and books throughout the Tree Lighting Ceremony.
“Here in California, we are 38 million strong and I truly believe it’s about WE and what WE can do together to make a difference in our communities, in our lives and in the lives of others. This Christmas, we need to look more outside ourselves and focus on what we can do to give, to serve and to help our fellow Californians.”
For the ceremony, eight year-old Itzamaya Nunez of San Jose has been selected to join the Governor in hanging a special ornament and lighting the tree. At birth, Itzamaya was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, which made her eligible for services through the San Andreas Regional Center. She enjoys gymnastics and loves to sing and dance. This year marks the 25th year a child with a developmental disability has been invited to participate in the State Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Once decorated, the tree, donated by the U.S. Forest Service, Institute of Forest Genetics, will contain 6,500 LED lights and more than 2,000 ornaments. The Department of Developmental Services provides 1,500 of those ornaments, handcrafted by children and adults with developmental disabilities, who receive services and support from state developmental centers and 21 nonprofit regional centers.
In keeping with Governor Schwarzenegger’s commitment to reduce California’s carbon footprint, the 55-foot majestic white fir tree will be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell system for the second year in a row. The one-kilowatt fuel cell system has been provided by the California Stationary Fuel Cell Collaborative and was manufactured by Altergy Systems of Folsom.