Jillian Beck 2016-11-24 11:55:35
Celebrating Capitol traditions. At the start of the holiday season each year, a horse-drawn carriage shepherds several Texas-grown pine trees to the Capitol. A century-old tradition, t he pines stand on display for the public in the House Chambers, and for the past two decades, a specially designed ornament has adorned the festive foliage. The custom dates back to 1996, when Nelda Laney, whose husband, Pete Laney, was then Speaker of the House, started the ornament program as a way to bring in non-tax revenue to help maintain and preserve the recently restored sunset-red granite building. Laney was inspired by the annual White House ornament and thought Texas could make its own lasting tradition. She was right. Since its creation, more than 1.1 million ornaments have been sold, bringing in more than $8 million to support the State Preservation Board’s education and preservation initiatives, according to board officials, with annual sales only second to the White House’s. “I was certainly hopeful it would last forever, but I did not expect that numbers would climb as quickly as they did,” Laney told the Texas Bar Journal in 2013. Laney, affectionately known as the “first lady of West Texas,” died in August, but her memory lives on with the enduring preservation program she started 20 years ago. “I’ve always said,” Laney remarked in 2013, “ ‘That’s what I want on my tombstone—the Capitol ornament lady.’ ” The 2016 ornament celebrates the longstanding tradition launched by Laney and features a tree decorated with lone stars, garlands, and Capitol ornaments from years past. For more information, go to texascapitolgiftshop.com.
Published by State Bar of Texas. View All Articles.
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