CHARLESTON -- Gov. Joe Manchin and First Lady Gayle Manchin are encouraging all fellow West Virginians to attend Joyful Night, the state's annual holiday celebration.

This musical event begins at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3, on the corner of Washington and Greenbrier streets, with a parade highlighting various high schools bands and the 2009 winners of the holiday ornament contest.

The governor and first lady will light the ceremonial Christmas tree promptly at 6 p.m. on stage, located on the north plaza of the State Capitol.

Visitors can take a musical walk through the Capitol grounds, Governor's Mansion and Culture Center. The evening's festivities will conclude with refreshments and entertainment in the Great Hall, Culture Center.

The Rotunda Christmas tree will feature "energy-themed" ornaments made by students from across the state -– these are decorations that were submitted for the 2009 ornament contest, the fifth year of this contest.

Additionally, Toys for Tots volunteers will have a table stationed at the Capitol Rotunda to receive new, unwrapped toys. The governor and first lady encourage attendees to bring a gift with them this year and help spread the holiday cheer to those less fortunate.

There are three Christmas trees outside this year. The ceremonial Christmas tree to be lit, on the north plaza stage, was donated by Dorothy Walker of Cottageville. The second Christmas tree, also located on the north plaza was donated by Wendy Kester of Scott Depot. The tree located on the south side of the State Capitol was donated by Kathy Matthews of Ravenswood.

In addition to this annual event, the governor and first lady are inviting all West Virginians to a Holiday Open House from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Governor's Mansion.

The holiday events listed below are free and open to the public:

Joyful Night Holiday Celebration

* 5:30 p.m. -- Parade (on the corner of Washington and Greenbrier streets)

* 6 p.m. -- Governor and First Lady light Christmas tree (stage, north plaza, State Capitol)

* 6:15 p.m. to 8 p.m. -- Musical Walk of capitol grounds; tour ends with refreshments at the Culture Center (Governor's Mansion, State Capitol and Culture Center)

Open House at Governor's Mansion

2 to 5 p.m. -- Open House (Governor's Mansion)

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