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Capitol Christmas Tree Heads Toward Nation’s Capitol

The 65-foot white fir that will be this year's Capitol Christmas Tree is loaded onto its flatbed truck by two cranes after being harvested Nov. 5. Prior to its harvesting on the Stanislaus National Forest in California, an elder from the Tuolumne Band of Me-wuk Indians blessed the majestic tree and its journey in a private ceremony. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The 65-foot white fir that will be this year's Capitol Christmas Tree is loaded onto its flatbed truck by two cranes after being harvested Nov. 5. Prior to its harvesting on the Stanislaus National Forest in California, an elder from the Tuolumne Band of Me-wuk Indians blessed the majestic tree and its journey in a private ceremony. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The 65-foot white fir from California’s Stanislaus National Forest was harvested and embarked on its journey toward the nation’s capitol on Nov. 5.

While this is the fourth time California will provide the Capitol Christmas Tree, it is the first time that the Forest Service has partnered with a local American Indian tribe to bless the tree. Prior to its harvesting on the Stanislaus, an elder from the Tuolumne Band of Me-wuk Indians blessed the splendid tree and its journey in a private ceremony.

After the blessing, local businesses and arborists teamed up to lift the tree and set it on a double flatbed truck that will eventually deliver it to Washington, D.C. on Nov. 28. But first, the tree started its in-state tour in Sonora, Calif. where it was met with various exhibits, booths and activities. Many attendees signed the tree’s “Christmas card to the nation,” a huge banner that will be hung and displayed on the flatbed truck during the 4,500-mile cross-country road trip.

After visiting communities in California, the tree will head east. During its 20-day trip, it will make a total of 23 stops in nine states, including New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

“For the next couple of months, this majestic white fir from the Stanislaus National Forest will be one of the most photographed trees in the world,” said Maria Benech, U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree coordinator. The tree will be “an internationally recognized symbol of the holiday season.”

Upon its arrival, the tree will be lowered about five feet into the grounds of the Capitol’s west lawn and the Capitol Grounds crew will spend about one week decorating the tree with thousands of ornaments, which are handmade by residents of the Golden State. In fact, community efforts play a critical role in this annual holiday project.

When Speaker of the House John Boehner lights the tree on Dec. 6, he will be accompanied by Johnny Crawford, a 7-year-old from Sonora, Calif., the lucky child whose name was randomly drawn for the event.

Additionally at the tree lighting ceremony, Californian singers Kate Wallace and Annie J. Dahlgren will perform their original song called “Peace, Peace, Peace,” and Californian Marc Davis’s original photograph titled “Granite Ablaze,” which depicts his interpretation of the Christmas tree, will be added to the permanent display of previous years’ winning artwork at the Washington office of the U.S. Forest Service.

10 Responses to “Capitol Christmas Tree Heads Toward Nation’s Capitol”

  1. Samantha G says:

    How much money did this cost including equipment, labor, fuel, etc? I see this as unnecessary government waste! I work for the USDA and am disgusted at how much money the federal government wastes and then tells me I cannot attend a training or meeting that benefits the ranchers I work with or cuts positions all together. What about a local (Wash, DC) venue or a plastic tree that can be REUSED. I am asking that we (you) be a good example of conservation. 1.REDUCE 2.REUSE 3.RECYCLE

  2. Dodie says:

    I think this is a wonderful tradition. I also work for USDA and have to work with cuts; however, a live christmas tree is still a wonderful thing to do. Too many people want to take God out of our country but our country was founded on our being able to express our God and country. We should all remember that.

  3. Jer says:

    I am also in the conservation field, but am happy to see us still upholding some time honored traditions. The practice of cutting christmas trees is not unsustainable. Anyway, we plant more trees than we cut down. The cost of this activity is miniscule when we consider how much other government waste is out there. This tree is a symbol to our nation to embrace the holiday spirit and to share the warmth it brings with eachother.

  4. Carolyn H says:

    I agree with Samantha G. This is such a waste of money when so many children and older people are going hungry, freezing due to no heat and no money for decent clothing! What a shame!!! I also work for the US Government (Federal)

  5. martha says:

    I agree!!! Too much wasted money!!!

  6. Jeff C. says:

    It’s Christmas; time to splurge and do things that feel good. Think about how much the trucker made hauling the tree; I’m sure their family will benefit from it, along with millions of other Americans that enjoy the spirit of Christmas. Using a fake tree just takes the authenticity from the season. Besides, I’m sure the tree will be converted into a useful product once it has served the nation and been enjoyed by millions.

  7. Lisa says:

    The U. S. Capitol Christmas Tree is privately funded and donations are still being sought: http://capitolchristmastree2011.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/who-is-paying-for-all-this/

    Go here to make a donation: http://www.capitolchristmastree2011.org/donate_sponsors.html

  8. masie says:

    Oh please! It’s the holidays! I work for USDA for over 20 years and I think that thisis a wonderful time honored tradition. I deal with cutbacks land loss of FTE but give me a break. Does the goverment waste money of course they do, everyone does. But if you really want to go after the big bucks go after welfare and medicare fraud and leave the tree alone. What a Grinch attitude.

  9. E says:

    Well done, Lisa. Showing the “FACTS” about Capitol Christmas Tree; it being a DONATION to the Governement. So, SG. before criticize a “program” get the “FACTS” before you slam something you apparently didn’t know anything about and this based on your “blog” comments. By the way, did you see the “billing” of the Capitol Christmas Tree or did you do the “billing”. Yeah I know how the government does “billing” of programs, too. Plus didn’t realize this was a “political” blog. I’m with Masie about the Grinch attitudes.

  10. Dee says:

    Donations-How wonderful! The tree represents tradition and reminds us that there is always hope. The donations remind us that Americans have good hearts. To those posting comments… Passion is a good thing, but please know your facts before posting damaging statements. You could also take some pride in your work as I’m sure someone else would be glad to have your job right now.

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