Inside Sen. Mark Warner’s annual holiday tradition at Capitol Hill: From handmade ornaments to festive serenades

Contributed photo by the Office of US Sen. Mark R. Warner

By Amie Knowles

December 15, 2023

One Capitol Hill office looks especially festive this time of year, and it belongs to US Senator Mark Warner (D-VA).

Traditions of putting up a Christmas tree and lighting candles for Hanukkah date back to Warner’s first year in office—but he doesn’t deck the halls alone. Since 2009, Warner and his team have extended a decoration invitation to children in Virginia almost every year.

Inside Sen. Mark Warner's annual holiday tradition at Capitol Hill: From handmade ornaments to festive serenades

Contributed photo by the Office of US Sen. Mark R. Warner

“We had different schools come different years,” Warner said in a recent media availability. “This year was a group of kindergarten kids from Prince William County.”

Students from Bel Air Elementary School in Woodbridge helped trim the senator’s tree with an array of handmade ornaments. It was an especially special day, complete with cookies and milk. The children also serenaded Warner’s staff with festive tunes like “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Inside Sen. Mark Warner's annual holiday tradition at Capitol Hill: From handmade ornaments to festive serenades

Contributed photo by the Office of US Sen. Mark R. Warner

The senator noted that this year’s 12-foot Fraser fir came from Mt. Rogers Tree Farm.

“We got a great tree that we’ve had. We’ve been taking trees from Grayson County for almost my whole tenure,” Warner said. “A great Southwest Virginia Christmas tree—it’s one of the tallest we’ve ever had.”

Inside Sen. Mark Warner's annual holiday tradition at Capitol Hill: From handmade ornaments to festive serenades

Contributed photo by the Office of US Sen. Mark R. Warner

Warner spoke fondly of the new memories made at the annual tradition.

“To have these kids come in with their joy about the holidays, to put on ornaments that they’ve made, it gave me a welcome respite from the day job on a regular basis,” Warner said. “As we celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, other holidays, it is a spirit of family. It’s a spirit of peace. And it’s something I hope and pray that we see a lot more of around the world.”

Inside Sen. Mark Warner's annual holiday tradition at Capitol Hill: From handmade ornaments to festive serenades

Contributed photo by the Office of US Sen. Mark R. Warner

  • Amie Knowles

    Amie is Dogwood's community editor. She has been in journalism for several years, winning multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association for news and features content. A lifelong Virginia resident, her work has appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee and NWNC Magazine.

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