More than 300 people gathered on in 25-degree weather to witness the harvesting of the 88-foot 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree from the Colville National Forest, the first step in its 5,000 mile journey from Washington State to the U. S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
More than a dozen spotters and equipment operators manipulated the tree into position as the Mack Truck pushed the trailer underneath. The enormity of the Engelmann spruce became apparent as the tree floated above the trailer while a few extra feet from the trunk had to be removed.
Every December, the Speaker of the House hosts a lighting ceremony on the U.S. Capitol grounds. With a simple flip of a switch roughly 10,000 lights bring the tree to life. But first it has to make the journey.
The progression of the tree across the country may be tracked on the 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree website, on their Facebook page and @CapitolTree2013 on Twitter.
The Washington State tour dates will include Colville and Spokane, Nov. 5; Republic and Wenatchee, Nov. 6; Everett and Olympia, Nov. 8; Vancouver and Kennewick, Nov. 9.
The rest of the tour will begin with a stop Nov. 10 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. That stop will be followed by appearances in Ogden, Utah, Nov. 11; Spanish Fork, Utah, Nov. 12; St. George, Utah, Nov. 13; Sedona and Flagstaff, Ariz., Nov. 14; Albuquerque, N.M., Nov. 15; Amarillo, Texas, Nov. 18; Dallas, Nov. 18; Little Rock, Ark., Nov. 19; Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 20; Knoxville, Tenn., Nov. 21; Roanoke, Va., Nov. 22; Hagerstown, Md., Nov. 23; and Allentown, Penn., Nov. 23.
The tree will arrive Nov. 24 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. After a night’s rest, the tree will be paraded into Washington, D.C., on Nov. 25.
Every year the U.S. Forest Service plays an integral role in providing the tree, dubbed the “People’s Tree” because it comes from public land. The cost of moving the tree, providing ornaments and hosting various events is covered by a non-profit organization dedicated to the event. Forest Service employees provide support as part of their duties.