Chilean and Pa. officials celebrate Christmas in the Capitol

Chilean government officials helped Gov. Rendell, Gov-elect Tom Corbett and their wives launch the Christmas season in the Commonwealth today.

Why, you may ask, were members of Chile's government on hand for the state's annual Capitol tree-lighting ceremony?

Chile and Pennsylvania forged a new bond this fall during mining disaster and subsequent rescue.

The ceremony today recognized three Pennsylvania companies for their role in rescuing the 33 miners and keeping them alive during the 69 days they were trapped underground. Center Rock Inc. of Berlin and Schramm Inc. of West Chester provided the drills and bits that enabled rescuers to reach the miners more quickly then anticipated. Aramark of Philadelphia (Yes, we know you're thinking, Aramark what did they do?) supplied sealed foods delivered to the miners underground).

Rendell called the successful October rescue “the feel-good story of 2010 for this planet.”

Chilean Minister of Defense Jaime Ravinet and Corbett and his wife, Susan Corbett, pushed a button to light up 600 bulbs on the 21-foot tree.

Also in the Capitol for the event was Chile’s ambassador to the United States, Arturo Fermandois, and representatives of the three companies. Rendell supporter and close friend, Lewis Katz of Philadelphia, helped members of the Chilean delegation, including Defense Minister  Ravinet get to Harrisburg by flying them here from New York in his private jet. Katz also was on hand for the festivities. 

The tree, grown at Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, is adorned with hundreds of handmade ornaments donated by senior centers across the state. Pennsylvania is among the top Christmas tree producing states in the country. Its farms produce about 1.2 million trees a year.



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