California governor lights Capitol Christmas tree

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his wife lit the Capitol Christmas Tree on Thursday with the help of a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome.

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Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom were joined by Nayeli Lemus to light approximately 10,000 LED lights on the more than 66 -foot-tall (20 meters) white fir from the LaTour Demonstration State Forest near Redding.

The California Department of Developmental Services and the San Andreas Regional Center chose Lemus, who lives in Gilroy, to represent the more than 340,000 Californians who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. The tree has more than 500 hand-crafted ornaments made by children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The governor's office said this year's ceremony highlighted the state's cultural diversity and “spirit of inclusion.”

Groups scheduled to perform included the Paradise Strong Chorus from Paradise Ridge Elementary School, where a devastating last year destroyed roughly 19,000 buildings and killed 85 people. Other performers include the Sacramento Mandarins Drum & Bugle Corps, the Brazilian Center for Cultural Exchange of Sacramento, the Palestinian Dabke Dancers and the Hmong Youth & Parents United.