California Gov. Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom illuminated the state Capitol tree on Thursday in a longstanding holiday tradition.
The 91st annual California State Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony was highlighted with performances by musical artist Tinashe, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the Bandura Ensemble of Sacramento, the Grant Union High School drum line and UC Davis a capella groups, among others.
This year’s tree is a 65-foot-tall white fir donated by the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and harvested from the Eldorado National Forest near Camino. The tree is illuminated by 14,000 LED lights and decorated with 250 traditional ornaments and 250 ornaments made by children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Layla Datskyy, 8, of Fair Oaks joined the Newsoms as a special guest. She represented nearly 400,000 Californians living with intellectual and developmental disabilities and was selected by the California Department of Developmental Services and the Alta California Regional Center, according to a news release from the governor’s office. Layla is a third-grader at O.W. Erlewine Elementary School.
Her family moved from Ukraine about eight years ago. Alex Datskyy, Layla’s father, said his parents still live in Ukraine, which was attacked and invaded by the Russian military this year. A bomb recently fell near the house of his parents, he added.
“Every day looks so scary,” he said. “We just pray.”