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Gilroy girl with down syndrome to help flip the switch for the Capitol's Christmas tree lights

Gov. Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Newsom to host 88th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony with the help of a girl from Gilroy.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California's cultural diversity and spirit of inclusion will be highlighted during the Capitol's upcoming Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom will host the 88th Annual California State Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 on the Capitol lawn.

“The holiday season is a very special time, and this year, we want to celebrate California’s rich history, people, cultures, backgrounds and religious beliefs, which give our state its unique and enviable identity,” Governor Newsom said in a press release. “We are honored to continue this tradition of bringing people together.”

The Newsoms will light the tree with the help of Nayeli Lemus, 10, of Gilroy, who  is excited to represent the more than 340,000 people in California with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The holidays are a time for family, for community, and for giving back,” First Partner Siebel Newsom said in the release. “As we celebrate together with our loved ones, we are reminded of the beauty of our diverse communities and grateful for our extended California Family.”

The California Department of Developmental Services and the San Andreas Regional Center selected Lemus, who has received services from the state since her diagnosis, because she is an, "energetic independent 4th grader who loves school, singing, dancing, going to the beach and reading books."

The tree lighting ceremony will also feature performances by:

  • Paradise Strong Chorus from Paradise Ridge Elementary School
  • Quetzalcoatl Aztec Dancers
  • Sacramento Mandarins Drum & Bugle Corps
  • Sacramento Taiko Dan
  • Brazilian Center for Cultural Exchange of Sacramento
  • Kalinka Russian Folk Dance Group
  • bbmoves
  • KEEN Khmer Ballet of Stockton
  • Korean Culture Center Urisawe
  • Palestinian Dabke Dancers
  • Hmong Youth & Parents United
  • Silver Flower
  • Lao Association of Sacramento Group
  • Dream Dance Studios
  • Wild Bear Sacramento Pow Wow Drum & Dance
  • Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir.

This year’s Capitol Christmas Tree is a white fir that stands 66 ft. and 3 inches tall from the LaTour Demonstration State Forest located near Redding in Shasta County. The tree, lit by approximately 10,000 LED lights, is to be decorated with at least 300 traditional ornaments and more than 500 hand-crafted ornaments made by children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For more information, visit the California Department of Developmental Services.

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