Hundreds of people crowded onto the Capitol grounds Thursday night for music and merriment as Gov. Jim Gibbons threw the switch and lit up the two trees and most of Carson Street, decorated for Christmas with thousands of lights.
The weather stayed in the mid-40s for the annual Silver & Snowflakes celebration.
The state tree, a 95-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce, was planted in 1876 by George Washington Gale Ferris, father of the inventor of the Ferris wheel. In 1999, Dema Guinn, wife of former Gov. Kenny Guinn, planted a new tree because the original tree was nearing the end of its lifespan.
Gibbons called on everyone to remember those serving in the armed services.
"They gave us this right and opportunity," he said.
"This is a beautiful time of year," the governor said. "I love the way the Capitol looks and I love the way the Governor's Mansion looks, and we get to see all these happy faces singing."
Always a hit during the tree-lighting ceremony is the performance of the 300-voice Carson City fifth grade music ensemble accompanied by the Carson Middle School advanced handbell choir.
Mayor Bob Crowell greeted the crowd with a loud "Merry Christmas Carson City!"
"Can you think of a better place to start the Christmas season with family and friends?" he asked.
He also asked people to remember those who are serving the country as well as those who are in need.
"There are 3,800 people out of work in our community right now," Crowell said. "That's 2,000 more than last year. I think it's important to remember those who need our help. We can do wonderful things as a community."
Children attending the event thronged Santa and Mrs. Claus, who arrived in a horse-drawn wagon.
"It's just a nice way to start the holiday season. We came last year," said Dave Navarro, who brought his wife, Adrienne, and two sons to the event.
Travis Navarro, 5, said he was having a good time seeing Santa "and his flying horses."
His older brother Kyle, 7, said he liked "the singing and all the lights on the big pine tree."
Christine Crawshaw brought her two sons, Zach, 10, and Trevor, 7, as part of a family tradition.
Laurie Carroll's daughter Madison, 5, had lots of reasons for attending the city's holiday party.
"I get to see my cousin Stella sing and see the Christmas tree light up, and Santa gave me three candy canes," she said.
After the ceremony, some of the celebrants walked two blocks west of the Capitol to the city's tree-lighting ceremony for more music and fun with Santa.
"It's always such a wonderful celebration with the kids singing," said Supervisor Robin Williamson. "It illustrates what's so special about Carson City."