LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas state Capitol’s holiday season begins Saturday at dusk with the lighting of the outdoor Christmas tree on the front lawn of the Capitol building, according to Secretary of State Mark Martin.

The tree has been decorated with more than 300,000 white lights.

"I hope Arkansans will join us for this event," Martin said Friday in a news release. "This is a great tradition begun by Secretary of State Crip Hall, and I am honored to continue it."

Saturday evening’s festivities follow the Little Rock’s Big Jingle Jubilee parade. The Episcopal Collegiate School "Steel Cats" will open the lighting ceremony, which will be emceed by former Miss Arkansas Alyse Eady, who was 1st runner-up in the 2011 Miss America Pageant.

After the ceremony, Santa will be available to visit with children in the Capitol Rotunda, while local choral groups Top of the Rock and Diamond State Men’s Chorus perform.

Thousands are expected to attend the event this year to see Santa Claus and the holiday decorations inside the Capitol, the secretary of state’s office said.

During the next few weeks, school choirs and dance troupes from across the state will perform in the Capitol Rotunda.

"This year’s event is especially meaningful because Arkansas Children’s Hospital celebrated its hundredth birthday," Martin said. "In honor of that, we’re donating 10 percent of proceeds from the sales of the 2012 Capitol Christmas ornament to the hospital."

The Capitol is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays.


Schedule of school performances on the web at