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10-Year-Old Gilroy Girl With Down Syndrome Will Light Up Capitol Christmas Tree Alongside Governor, First Partner

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A student from Gilroy was chosen to participate in the 88th Annual Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting with Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom on Dec. 5. 

Nayeli Lemus, 10, is a fourth-grader at the Charter School of Morgan Hill who has Down syndrome. She has received services from the regional Department of Developmental Services (DDS) since birth. The DDS said she was chosen to represent more than 340,000 individuals across California who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and receive services at regional centers and state-operated facilities.

Neyeli is described as "an independent and energetic student [who] loves singing, dancing, concerts, going to the beach and reading books." Her large extended family will be at the tree lighting on Thursday.

The Paradise Ridge Elementary School choir, called the Paradise Strong Chorus, will be one of more than a dozen diverse performers entertaining the crowd.

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The 66-foot-tall white fir will be decorated with 10,000 ultra-low wattage LED lights and will feature more than 500 ornaments handmade by adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, along with 300 traditional ornaments.

The Sacramento Children's Home and California Volunteers will also have a Giving Tree at the free event. Attendees can select a Wish Star and provide gifts to children living at the Home.

The official state tree is actually the second harvested from the LaTour Demonstration State Forest in Shasta County. The first cracked and couldn't be displayed. The second has come under criticism for being too sparse.

The 88th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony starts at 5 pm.

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