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The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Arrives in DC

Posted by Robert Hudson Westover, Office of Communication, USDA Forest Service in Forestry
Nov 23, 2020

The Peoples’ Tree is positioned in place on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill

The Peoples’ Tree is positioned in place on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill. (Photo credit: Tanya Flores, USDA Forest Service)

For 50 years, the arrival of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree has brought enormous excitement to the workers who deliver the tree across the country and then hoist the towering conifer into place on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill.

In fact, the planning for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree started over a year ago, as the 60-foot-tall blue spruce from the Carson National Forest in New Mexico was making its arrival in Washington D.C. The journey this year began with the employees of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests in western Colorado.

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree arrives in the early morning hours in D.C.

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree arrives in the early morning hours in D.C. The lighting ceremony will be broadcast on CSPAN at 5 p.m. EST on Dec. 2. (USDA Forest Service photo)

Planning for the delivery of what is fondly called “The People’s Tree” by many, is the responsibility of a different national forest every year. It’s sort of like the passing of the Olympic torch, except this one is over 55 feet high, is illumined by tens of thousands of brilliant LED lights will be adorned with thousands ornaments handmade by children of the state of Colorado.

As is the tradition every year, The People’s Tree will be handed over to the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, who will ensure it is placed on the grounds of Capitol Hill just below the gleaming dome of the marble superstructure of the U.S. Capitol building.

Although COVID-19 pandemic precautions altered the usual multistate stops to D.C., the tree’s journey officially began on Nov. 6 when it was harvested on the Uncompahgre National Forest. It then traveled to 10 communities for a series of socially distanced outdoor festivities hosted by local communities in several states.

As is tradition, the Speaker of the House will officially light the tree during a ceremony beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. EST. 

The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree being slowly lifted from the flatbed of a truck

The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree being slowly lifted from the flatbed of a truck is ending the last leg of its cross-country journey. It will be placed on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill. (Photo credit: Tanya Flores, USDA Forest Service)

Category/Topic: Forestry

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