Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin will host the 79th anniversary of the State Capitol Lighting Ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.


This year’s event will be hosted by North Little Rock Police Officer Tommy Norman. Norman has been a police officer with the North Little Rock Police Department since 1998; in that time, he has become a national star for his dedication as a police officer and as a leading voice for community policing, according to a news release from Martin’s office.


“Norman’s social media following of over 1 million people allows him to share his experiences and the positive impact he has on his community,” the news release said. “He has been featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox News, CNN, and in The New York Times.”


For the remainder of his term, Martin has chosen to honor those who have dedicated themselves to public service at each year’s lighting ceremony.


“This year, we honor law enforcement officers. The ceremony will feature the Arkansas State Police Honor Guard, Allison Walton, an officer with the Little Rock Police Department, will sing the National Anthem and State Capitol Police Officer John Ingram will give the invocation. The 2017 Capitol Christmas ornament features the Arkansas Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. For Secretary Martin’s final Capitol Lighting Ceremony, we will honor those who are serving, or have served, in the military,” according to the news release.


The tradition of lighting the Capitol began in 1938 when then-Secretary of State “Crip” Hall began this time-honored tradition as a gift to children at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. He himself suffered from polio as a child and wanted to help lift the spirits of children suffering from life threatening illnesses. Not only did he lift their spirits, but as a leader, he showed empathy, kindness and joy to these children in their time of need.


“In honor of this tradition, we continue to light the entire Capitol building so it will be visible from Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Representatives from Arkansas Easter Seals will assist with the lighting,” the news release said.


Weather permitting, the Capitol lighting will be followed by fireworks. Afterward, the public is invited to come into the Capitol for activities and to see all of the Christmas decorations. The Arkansas Gospel Mass Choir will perform on the second floor of the rotunda. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to see all of the children in his workshop, also in the second-floor rotunda.


Author Carol Dabney will be reading “Twas the Mouse Before Christmas” in the Old Supreme Court Room.


The Capitol will be open to the public during the holiday season from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays.