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State Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the state Capitol

State Christmas Tree 2023
Dave Thompson
State Christmas Tree 2023

The sounds of the holidays filled the Great Hall at the state Capitol building in Bismarck, as the state's Christmas tree was lit.

It happened in an evening ceremony.

And the tree is big.

"It is a 60-foot tree," said Julie Strum of the Facilities Management Division of the state's Office of Management and Budget. "It takes about 5,000 ornaments to decorate the tree, and it's a full-day process."

385 of the ornaments are new this year.

The annual tree lighting ceremony began in 1981.

Governor Doug Burgum and First Lady Kathryn Helgaas-Burgum hosted the event. . The theme for this year’s event – “Lighting the Way,” which highlights how North Dakotans struggling with addiction issues can beat those issues.

"Over six years ago, we established, Doug and I, a tradition by creating space to reflect on people in our lives who have been impacted by the disease of addition, and to spread hope and awareness that recovery is possible," Helgaas-Burgum told the crowd. She said she has been in recovery from alcohol addition for more than 21 years.

By the way, the tree is artificial.

"It has been since 2015, when the forest marshal told us we couldn't have a live one anymore," Strum said.

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