State House prepares for next weekend's Carolighting ceremony

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Downtown Columbia and its leaders are getting ready to kick off the holiday season next weekend with the 44th annual State Capitol Carolighting Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Governor Mark Sanford and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin will hold the event on the north steps of the State House at 6:00pm on Sunday, November 28. "I'm looking forward to this wonderful event and I am honored to welcome residents and visitors from across the state to celebrate the start of this holiday season here in the Capitol City," continued Benjamin.

Workers used cranes and cherry pickers Thursday afternoon to decorate the 34-foot white fir Christmas tree from Maple Hills Farm in Pennsylvania. The tree is decorated with 35,000 multi-colored lights and more than 900 ornaments. A three-foot star tops the tree surrounded by red and green presents. The tree and its trimmings were a gift from the women of the Columbia Garden Club and the Garden Club of South Carolina.

A children's choir made up of students from area school districts will perform "Fear Not Good Shepherds" and "Song of the Crib." Singers from the University of South Carolina and area churches will perform "Carol of the Bells," "Caroling Caroling," and the "Hallelujah Chorus."

"We're excited to have two very talented choirs performing at this year's tree lighting," said Benjamin. "It's always a delight to have our children center stage to display their incredible skills and abilities for the enjoyment of the community."

The free event also will feature live entertainment including Angel Morey of America's Got Talent, The United States Army 282nd Brass Band Quintet, the Benedict College Gospel Choir, the Together For Him trio, and the Pleneros del Sur band.

Earlier this month, Mayor Benjamin and state reps. Kenny Bingham and James Smith, and Rep-elect Rick Quinn spearheaded an effort to continue the longstanding tradition after hearing that the Carolighting had been canceled.

The Carolighting ceremony begins at 6:00pm and ends at 7:00pm, with the tree lighting to follow. The full event will be broadcast live on SCETV.

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