BATON ROUGE – (PRESS RELEASE) Today, Governor John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards launched the official start of the holiday season at the Governor’s Mansion as guests were treated to a tour of the holiday decorations, a musical performance by the Kids’ Orchestra and a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. This year’s theme is dedicated to celebrating the New Orleans Tricentennial.
“We always look forward to this time of year, and given that New Orleans is celebrating its 300thanniversary, it was an easy decision to make it the centerpiece of this year’s festivities,” said Gov. Edwards. “Donna and her team of volunteers do an outstanding job each year of making the mansion beautiful, and we truly enjoy being able to share it with others. But, we also recognize that this can be a very difficult time of year for many of our citizens, so we always use this as an opportunity to raise awareness and do what we can to help.”
“This is the season of giving, and there are many who need our help, which is why we started the tradition two years ago of collecting donations to help worthwhile causes,” said Donna Edwards. “In the past, we focused our efforts on helping survivors of the 2016 floods, supporting our foster children and parents, and this year, we are collecting gift cards to help provide basic necessities for victims of human trafficking. It’s a serious issue for our state, which is why John Bel and I are committed to doing what we can to help victims and prevent others from becoming trapped by it. We’re very grateful for everyone who joined us in starting off this holiday season and extending a helping hand as well.”
The Baton Rouge-based Kids’ Orchestra is the largest after-school music program for kindergarten-5th-grade students with nearly 800 students from across East Baton Rouge Parish enrolled.
This year, there are seven beautifully decorated Christmas trees inside the mansion and three outside, all of them filled with hundreds of ornaments and lights. In keeping with the New Orleans Tricentennial, many of the ornaments adorning the trees include jazz musicians, the St. Louis Cathedral and the fleur-de-lis that were hand-painted by art students from around the state. Outside, the Louisiana black bear, the Louisiana brown pelican and a menorah have been added along Capitol Lake, joining Cajun Santa and his eight alligators pulling his sleigh, candy canes and other festive displays.
Guests were also invited to visit the State Capitol’s Memorial Hall to view the Christmas decorations organized by the Governor’s Office. The following state agencies decorated eight Louisiana-grown 12-foot blue spruce Christmas trees: the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (donated all of the trees), Division of Administration, Department of Revenue, Louisiana Economic Development, Department of Corrections, Office of Juvenile Justice and Department of Children and Family Services. The displays in the capitol are open to the public.
The Louisiana State Capitol will be lit in red and green during the holiday season.