Lorraine Stoel, Luverne, was selected to decorate one of 100 Christmas trees on display in the Capitol rotunda in Pierre, South Dakota. She’s pictured with Noah Tainowitz, a third generation nephew.Christmas tree display at the South Dakota rotunda in Pierre, South Dakota.A handcrafted quilted Dutch ornamentA handcrafted quilted Dutch ornamentA handcrafted quilted Dutch ornament

A Christmas tree in Pierre

Luverne woman fulfills wish to decorate a tree at South Dakota capitol

One hundred finely decorated evergreen trees fill the Capitol rotunda in Pierre, South Dakota, and a Luverne woman can take credit for one of them.

Lorraine Stoel, a native of the Okaton, South Dakota, area, was invited to decorate a tree in a theme of her choosing.

Stoel’s Christmas tree theme is “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow — with Jack and Grace,” in honor of her parents, Jack and Grace Roghair. “Appreciating lessons learned from yesteryear, enjoyed today and hopefully passed to future generations,” is her tree’s statement of purpose.

The theme at the Capitol this year is International Christmas. Stoel said she chose to focus on her Dutch heritage, and she decorated the tree with handcrafted quilted ornaments.

“It was a great experience,” she said.

She has shared similar ornaments in a themed tree she has done at the Carnegie Cultural Center’s Festival of Trees in Luverne.

Stoel said she’s always wanted to be part of the Capitol tree decorating process, but didn’t think it would be possible to participate.

“My brother was a big help in finding the right department to contact,” she said.

“I thought it would be a big rigamarole and I’d be on a big long waiting list. … They sent me forms to fill out and not long after that, I received notification that I had been chosen to do a tree.”

There were guidelines she must follow in decorating her 7-foot tree. For example, the lights must be all white — not blinking — and the decorating material can’t be promotional or selling a product.

According to the Capitol website, cities, businesses, nonprofit groups and other civic organizations apply throughout the year for a tree.

If selected, they spend the weekend before Thanksgiving busily stringing lights and tinsel and hanging handcrafted ornaments.

Stoel said she made it a family affair when she traveled to Pierre on Nov. 20 to decorate her tree. Her granddaughter, Chelsey Schmidt (originally from Luverne, now in Brandon), and great-grandson Carter, 4, traveled with Stoel.

They were met by Stoel’s brother and his wife and their great-grandson, all from Custer, and later they met with their other three Roghair brothers and their wives for lunch. “It was good to be together,” Stoel said.

According to the Capitol website, among the most treasured pieces on display are a set of hand-painted porcelain ornaments from the state china painters’ organization and a wooden nativity, believed to be nearly 125 years old, that the local Knights of Columbus sets up on the second floor. The trees are on display through the holiday season.

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