You know Christmas is right around the corner when images of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree being hoisted from a very long tractor trailer show up on your social media apps and on TV.
An ongoing American tradition since 1964, this year, the great tree called fondly by its fans “An Idaho Mountain Gem,” comes from the Payette National Forest near McCall, Idaho.
Entering the grounds of the Capitol Building to be given by the Forest Service to the Architect of the Capitol and with a full security escort no less, the 80-foot Engelmann spruce rode on a big-rig truck adorned in festive red and labeled “From tree to shining tree.”
Keith Lannom, the Payette Forest’s supervisor, reminded the press gathered for the arrival ceremony that “thousands of LED lights and over 6,000 ornaments made by children in Idaho who used 20 pounds of glitter, will hang on the tree…” among other intriguing facts about the tree.
Harvested on November 2, the Idaho gem has made quite a journey. It has stopped in 30 cities to much excitement, and in one location a group of women calling themselves “The Rebeccas” surprised the entourage traveling with the tree to an al fresco luncheon feast that the tree workers recounted with much happiness as they shivered in the early morning chill just below Capitol Hill before the arrival ceremony.
The official lighting ceremony will be held December 6th beginning at 5 PM on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill with the Idaho Congressional Delegation and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan officiating. Fifth grader Isabella Gerard was chosen as Idaho’s student representative to assist in the tree lighting. She was awarded the opportunity after her poem, “Pristine Idaho Mountains," was chosen at random in a contest that included over 200 entries from Idaho students. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
According to Lannom the tree’s journey has been tracked with the several hashtags including #payetteforward since November 2. He went on to say “Let me tell you, people love the Capitol Christmas tree.”