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Nativity joins Christmas tree at MO Governor’s mansion

The theme of this year’s Christmas exhibit at the Missouri Governor’s Mansion is “Down Home Missouri Christmas.”

As part of the decorations, a 40-foot Norway spruce arrived at the Missouri Governor’s mansion this week and will adorn the grounds.  The tree was cut down in Lebanon after a local family there said it grew too large for their yard.

The tree and an accompanying nativity scene will be the highlights of the tree lighting ceremony on Friday at 6 p.m. Governor Mike Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson will flip the switch.

The event is open to the ceremony and may also participate in a candlelight tours immediately after the ceremony up until 9 p.m.  The tours will continue Saturday from 12 p.m-3 p.m.

Shari Childs, the Executive Director of the Governor’s mansion, says the event draws attendees from all over the state.  “I know in previous years we’ve seen anywhere from 7,000-to-12,000 people through the house on Friday night,” said Childs.

New this year is a live nativity scene re-enacted by members of Jefferson City’s Concord Baptist Church.

Childs says the presentation will include livestock.  “There’ll be animals that you might see in a manger, including and maybe a camel,” Childs said.

Student choirs and bands from around Missouri will provide music during the tours on both days.   Friday, the Sparta High School band will perform outside on the front steps during the lighting ceremony while choirs from Bolivar, Rolla, and Waynesville, as well as School of the Osage in Lake Ozark, will take turns singing inside.  Saturday, choirs from the Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson City, Jefferson City High School and Helias Catholic High School in Jefferson City will perform.

Childs has advice for anyone interested in attending the Friday and Saturday events at the Governor’s Mansion.  “I would just advise people to dress warm, dress in layers and be ready to stand in line for a little while,” said Childs.

The first lit Christmas display on the Mansion lawn was under Governor Guy Brasfield Park and First Lady Eleanora Park in the mid-1930s.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has requirements for retaining an evergreen each year to serve as the official Christmas tree.  Included in the requirements are that the tree be at least 40 feet tall and be an eastern white pine, Norway spruce, or eastern red cedar that is quite common along the State’s highways and wooded areas.