PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — After last year’s holiday celebration was canceled due to the pandemic, Rhode Islanders were once again allowed to join the governor for the annual R.I. State House Christmas tree lighting.

This year, there are two Christmas trees on display at the State House: one 12-foot Douglas fir from Henry’s Tree Farm in Scituate and an 18-foot artificial tree.

Gov. Dan McKee and his family kicked off the holiday season by lighting the real tree, which is located outside the State House facing Francis and Gaspee streets, Thursday evening.

The artificial tree has taken center stage inside the State House rotunda.

Following the tree-lighting ceremony, McKee and his wife, First Lady Susan McKee, read the holiday classic “The Night Before Christmas” to attendees.

The holiday celebration also featured performances from the Cumberland Clef Sinders, Paul Cuffee Lower School Chorus directed by Christian Stanton, “The Governor’s Own” 88th Army Band’s Portrait of Green Septet and special celebrity guest Billy Gilman.

“The State House holiday celebration and tree lighting is one of the most festive times of the year,” McKee said. “It’s an opportunity for Rhode Islanders from all 39 cities and towns to come together and celebrate the season.”

Santa and Mrs. Claus were also on hand for socially-distanced photos with children. Attendees were also asked to bring an unwrapped toy to donate to the R.I. State Police’s “Fill a Cruiser” campaign.

The toys will be donated to a variety of local charities for distribution to kids in need. Every child who donated an unwrapped toy will be entered into a raffle to win a scooter.