AUSTIN – An ornament celebrating San Antonio’s upcoming birthday is now hanging on a giant Christmas tree in the Texas House of Representatives chamber at the state Capitol.
The ornament is part of the Texas House District Ornament Project. Established in 2009 by Julie Straus, wife of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, the project gives each of the 150 Members of the Texas House an opportunity to commission an ornament that reflects the unique character of his or her home district. Speaker Straus, who represents House District 121 in Bexar County, enlisted local artist Cruz Ortiz to create an ornament highlighting San Antonio’s upcoming Tricentennial.
Mission San Antonio de Valero, which later became known as the Alamo, and Presidio San Antonio de Bejar, a Spanish fort, were established in 1718. The District 121 ornament features an artistic depiction of the Alamo, as well as the numeral "300" in bright colors to celebrate San Antonio's vibrant history.
"I love the way that the House Christmas tree showcases the different regions and cultures of Texas," said Julie Straus. "The District 121 ornament is a colorful tribute to San Antonio’s rich history.”
Speaker Straus also commissioned an ornament highlighting the Talking Book Program, which offers free braille, large print and audio book library services to qualifying Texans with visual, physical or reading disabilities. The ornament was decorated by artist Missy Harris and features Santa reading The Night Before Christmas. More information about the Talking Book Program can be found on the Texas State Library website: www.tsl.texas.gov/TBP.
All of the ornaments commissioned by Members of the Texas House have been hung on the House chamber's 23-foot, Texas-grown Christmas tree. Visitors can find their local House district on a map at the entrance of the House chamber and then look up their district’s ornament in a book that is also displayed by the chamber’s front door.
“I encourage Texans to visit the Capitol during the holidays and see the ornament representing their community,” Julie Straus said.
The Texas Capitol features a variety of performances and events throughout December. North East Independent School District's Madison High School Choir will perform in the Capitol rotunda at noon on December 18.
“We’ve hosted a variety of school choirs at the Capitol over the years and all of them have represented our community well,” said Speaker Joe Straus. “I’m glad that Capitol visitors will get to hear from these talented Madison students.”
The House Christmas tree will be on display in the House Chamber until Jan. 2. For more information on visiting the Texas Capitol, please visit the Texas Capitol Visitors Center website at http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/prop/tcvc/cvc/cvc.html.