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Governor Charlie Baker kicked off the holiday season with tons of cheer on December 1st, when he was joined by First Lady Lauren Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito for the annual lighting of the Commonwealth Christmas Tree and a special “Make it a Massachusetts Holiday” open house.

Before the full bustle of the tree lighting began, First Lady Lauren Baker shared a quiet moment with some special children in the Governor’s ceremonial office. In front of a roaring fire the First Lady and children of deployed members of the Massachusetts National Guard gathered to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

State House Christmas Tree Lighting, 12.1.15

As the children grabbed their hot chocolates and placed themselves in a circle around the fireplace they were surprised by an unexpected visitor – Mrs. Claus! She served them a tray full of holiday cookies and the reading was ready to begin. Mrs. Baker started off the story and then passed the book around for the children to join in the reading. Pretty soon the hot chocolates and the story were finished but the surprises were just getting started. Famed Boston Bruins captain Ray Bourque popped in to greet the kids, answer their questions, and snap some selfies.

State House Christmas Tree Lighting, 12.1.15

Thankfully the weather held and a huge crowd gathered on the steps of the State House for the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. The festivities commenced with a medley of seasonal songs from the Boston Children’s Chorus. The chorus consists of children 7 to 18 years old from diverse communities through out the city with the mission of inspiring social change. After a few upbeat holiday numbers the children and the crowd were greeted by the Governor, First Lady and Lt. Governor.

State House Christmas Tree Lighting, 12.1.15

The Governor announced that they were about to be joined by a special guest, as Santa Claus appeared riding high upon a fire truck cruising up Beacon Street. Santa sprung into the fire truck’s snorkel (aka cherry picker) to reach the tip of the Christmas tree on the State House front lawn. After returning the waves and cheers from the children and adults in the audience, Santa and the Governor began the countdown for the tree lighting. Like New Years, as the numbers decreased the energy rose, and the crowd was cheering loudly by the time the Governor hit “3,2,1” and the lights went on. The Everett High School Marching Band celebrated the newly illuminated tree with a rousing song from high above on the Statehouse balcony.

State House Christmas Tree Lighting, 12.1.15

With the Christmas tree lit, attention turned toward the Open House already taking place inside the Statehouse in the Great Hall and at the Grand Staircase. Santa Claus had made his way inside and was greeting children of all ages lined up for a chance to get their wish list in front of him. Among the musical performers were the Massachusetts Army National Guard Quintet, Boston Arts Academy Choir, Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School, and Lexington’s William Diamond Fife & Drum Band.

More than a dozen Massachusetts vendors–farms, food businesses, agricultural partners, historic sites–were showcasing their offerings for all to sample and enjoy. Westwood’s Copper Kettle Bakery was serving fresh-off-the-griddle Welsh Cakes, Red Apple Farm had their cider doughnuts, Stone Harvest Farm their alpaca wool, and, of course, Koffee Kup Bakery had their Boston Kreme cupcakes! One of the goals of this open house was to remind residents of all the wonderful Massachusetts-based producers and tourist sites needing our business this holiday season.

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