West Virginians celebrated the holidays at the state capitol on Thursday evening.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, D-W.Va., and First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin were joined by hundreds of people from across the state for this year's Joyful Night celebration. The annual event kicks off the holiday season with the lighting of the state's Christmas trees.
It all began with the lighting of the North Plaza tree donated by Mr. and Mrs. Ray Fewell of Winfield. Shortly after, the crowd made their way to the Lincoln Plaza for a special tribute to West Virginia veterans, military members and their families around the tree donated by Mr. and Mrs. Al Tolliver of Danese. They then visited the trees inside the capitol and ended the evening with the reading of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas by the governor and first lady in the governor's mansion.
There are also a number of other, special trees on display this year. West Virginia talent is on display on the ArtisTree, which showcases ornaments crafted by West Virginia artisans and artists in the foyer of the governor's mansion. A tree for young artists is also on display in the rotunda of the state capitol. And a new tradition this year, the Tomblins collected photos for a special military recognition tree that is on display in the governor's reception room. "Each tree, and the ornaments that make them beautiful, tell a story of who we are as West Virginians," said First Lady Tomblin in a news release. "I'm truly grateful to the many artists-both young and old-who have offered to showcase their talents at the State Capitol and Governor's Mansion during this year's holiday season."
During the Joyful Night celebration, the governor and first lady donated to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive and encouraged all West Virginians to support charitable causes. "May we be reminded that this is the season of giving, a time to celebrate with friends, both old and new," said Gov. Tomblin in the same news release. "We have much to be thankful for this year, and I encourage all West Virginians to share their blessings this holiday season."
WOWK 13News is also a partner with the U.S. Marin Corps Toys for Tots campaign. The annual "Drive-Thru Drop-Off" event is scheduled for Friday, December 7. Members of WOWK 13News will be joining marines to man locations at the WOWK offices on 5th Avenue in Huntington, and on Quarrier Street in Charleston. New this year, a third location at the Lincoln statue along Kanawha Boulevard at the state capitol in Charleston. People are encouraged to stop by with new, unwrapped toys from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.