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In 1983, under the direction of Governor George Deukmejian, the Department of Developmental Services was invited to participate in the decoration of the State Tree and the tree lighting ceremony. Each year, children and adults with developmental disabilities have created thousands of hand-crafted ornaments for the tree. Since 1983, a child with a developmental disability has been chosen to present one of these ornaments during the ceremony to the Governor. A few years later, the child began joining the Governor in "flipping the switch" during the ceremony to light the tree, signifying the start of the Capitol Holiday season.
Ornament made by an individual
with developmental disabilities
DDS' developmental centers, state-operated community facilities, and artists from the state's 21 regional centers created nearly 900 ornaments for the tree. Some centers began making ornaments as early as June.
Made from mostly recycled and weather resistant materials, the ornaments create quite a stir from onlookers. Even though they are hand made, they are usually durable enough to last through December.