Gov. Nixon enjoys last Christmas tree lighting

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JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Nixon and his wife Georganne kicked off the holiday season in the state's capital with Friday's annual Christmas tree lighting and candlelit tours at the Governor's Mansion.

Rebecca Gordon, executive director of Friends of the Missouri Governor’s Mansion, said thousands of people will tour the mansion because the weather is warmer than it has been in past ceremonies.

She said each year's celebration is a little different.

"This year it's amazing actually," Gordon said. "The trees inside and the mantlepieces are decorated with beautiful white blooms with fresh cranberries and theres also beautiful lemons and limes."  

According to a Missouri Department of Conservation press release, the tree in front of the Governor's Mansion this year is a 30-foot Eastern Red Cedar, which Bud Perrin, of Independence, donated. The tree became too large for a backyard, so the family planned to remove it anyway.

“This Eastern Red Cedar is a beautiful example of a tree that’s seen just about everywhere in Missouri,” MDC Forestry Program Supervisor Holly Dentner said in the press release.

White Pines are inside the mansion by the staircase, back porch and in other rooms. The pines are from Pea Ridge Forest, a Christmas tree farm near Hermann. 

For the final time as governor, Nixon flipped the switch that lights up the tree in the yard and the lights along the mansion's exterior. After the brief lighting ceremony, 70 Friends of the Missouri Governor's Mansion volunteers gave visitors free candlelit tours of the mansion until 9 p.m.

"They are here in force tonight, welcoming people, telling people about the history of the mansion, and helping us get people moved through so that everyone can get in," Gordon said.

Trevin Adams was with his family to tour the mansion. They were among the first people to go inside because they work for the crane company that set up the outdoor tree. Adams said he was excited to see all the decorations.

In addition to seeing the mansion's decorations and hearing about its history, guests got to shake hands and take pictures with the governor and his wife.

Dylan Williams, who was also there with his parents, said, "We wanted to have fun and meet the governor so he can show off his house." 

Guests can also tour the mansion on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The historic building in downtown Jefferson City has been the home of Missouri governors since 1871. Local choir students sung during the lighting ceremony and tours and will also sing during tours Saturday.