The state Christmas tree has been lit on the Capitol steps, a return to the commonwealth’s holiday tradition of the symbol of the holidays outdoors.
Despite carolers’ best efforts, the weather outside was far from frightful – the temperature hovered just below 60 degrees at the time of the tree lighting Tuesday. Three machines spewing artificial snow and foam whirred to life to conjure up a more wintry mood.
Gov. Corbett joked with Harrisburg Catholic Bishop Joseph McFadden about the balmy evening.
“Bishop, I don’t know if you had anything to do with the weather, but you did a great job,” he said.
During the ceremony, Corbett urged spectators to remember the victims of Hurricane Sandy and consider sending a check to a charity that is offering disaster relief to families in the storm’s path.
A spokesman for the state Department of General Services said it was the governor’s idea to do the tree lighting outside and in the evening, so more families could attend.
The governor said the last time a Capitol tree was outside was sometime in the 1980s. “Nobody can find the exact date, the last time it was,” he said. “I hope that this marks the return of a holiday tradition of having a tree out here.”
Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley hoisted his young son up to press the button lighting the tree. Another 22-foot tall Douglas fir is inside the Capitol Rotunda. Both trees will be lit from 4 p.m. to midnight every night through the new year.