Pierre's Christmas at the Capitol has the power to turn even the most hardcore Grinch wide-eyed with holiday wonder. For one month each year, the marble halls and soaring rotunda of South Dakota's century-old capitol make a stunning backdrop for more than 100 Christmas trees decorated by community groups and state agencies. The display attracts thousands of awed visitors each year.
Some of the trees are somber; the South Dakota Peace Officers Association decorates its offering with photos of law enforcement officers who’ve died in the line of duty. In 2011, emergency responder gear adorned a tree dedicated to volunteers who helped with Missouri River flooding. Other trees are more traditional.
A series of one-day events coincide with Christmas at the Capitol to heighten the holiday experience. On the day after Thanksgiving, the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center hosts a museum open house and the Pierre community puts on its annual downtown Parade of Lights. A couple of weeks later, the capitol invites guests in for Pie Day, when politicians bake and serve pies to the public.