Holiday Traditions: A Visit to the Wisconsin State Capitol Christmas Tree

Every family has holiday traditions. Our traditions include a yearly visit to the state capitol to see the Christmas tree erected in the rotunda. (It always seems like the coldest day as we walk up the windy street to the capitol after parking and feeding the meter!) The tree is always huge and beautifully decorated! They have to bundle it very tightly to get it through the entrance doors, and sometimes they break it in the process and have to mend it a little before they can decorate it!

This year’s tree was, as usual, huge and beautifully decorated with ornaments made by the state’s school children. One year we came early in the month and caught them decorating the tree. They already had most of the lights on and were in the process of putting on the thousands of handmade ornaments. The tree was ringed with scaffolding and the train wasn’t set up yet.

On the years when we viewed the tree on a weekend, there has always been some kind of musical event in progress. One year it was carolers and brass quintets.  Another year it was a huge gathering of tuba players (over 70!) all playing Christmas carols at an impossibly low register. (I plugged my ears to better hear the melody!) They and their instruments were decorated with stuffed reindeer antlers, shiny noses, and lights. This year a couple was getting married and a lone violinist was playing, among other classical pieces, Pachelbel’s Cannon in D.

The interior of the rotunda where the tree is displayed is dimly lit, so the impact of the multicolored LED lights covering the tree when approaching via the long entrance hall is rich and startling. (Sorry, my pictures don’t do it justice.) The base of the tree has a train running around it. People’s voices echo as they talk to each other and their children, but it is never too difficult to hear the music, and there is always the low whirring sound of the large train circling the tree. The children are fascinated by the train and the size of the tree. I always like to study the ornaments. It is obvious that kids of all ages have made them. I hope some of their parents brought them in to see their creations displayed on this great tree. Begonia

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