The state Christmas tree has been lit on the Capitol steps, a return to Pennsylvania's holiday tradition of placing symbols of the holidays outdoors.

"Oh the weather outside is frightful," sang carolers Tuesday evening.

After the tree was lit, three machines spewing artificial snow and foam whirred to life, making up for the not-so-frightful weather.

Gov. Tom Corbett joked with Harrisburg Catholic Bishop Joseph McFadden about the mild weather; at the time of the lighting, the temperature hovered just below 60 degrees.

"Bishop, I don't know if you had anything to do with the weather, but you did a great job," Corbett said.

During the ceremony, Corbett urged spectators to remember the victims of Hurricane Sandy and consider sending a check to a charity that is offering disaster relief to families in the storm's path.

The tree lighting happened outside for the first time since the 1980s.

A state spokesman says it was Corbett's idea, so more people could attend the event and appreciate the 22-foot Douglas fir.

The governor says it's been some time since the tree was outside.

"Nobody can find the exact date, the last time it was," he said. "I hope that this marks the return of a holiday tradition of having a tree out here."

That tree, and another inside the Capitol Rotunda, will be lit every evening through the New Year.