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A Christmas Story Worth Telling

Posted by Robert Hudson Westover, Office of Communication, USDA Forest Service in Forestry
Dec 02, 2020
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree
This year, the nation viewed the lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree virtually. (USDA Forest Service photo)

Usually when an event as wonderful as the lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree has its 50th anniversary, the events surrounding it are packed with people ready to celebrate. That was the plan this year, but the Covid-19 pandemic changed everything and yet nothing.

That’s because, yes, the crowds were not there this year, but the thrill and excitement was there for all to see--albeit virtually.

Planning for the lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, or the People’s Tree as many refer to it, started over a year ago much as it has been done for 50 years.

But Covid-19 changed all that.

In fact, there were even rumors about the tree lighting ceremony for the 55-foot-high Engelmann spruce not even happening this year.

However, the hard working USDA Forest Service folks, and their partnering organizations on the host forest where the tree was harvested, the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, thought differently. Instead of giving up, they duteously kept planning for not only the lighting but also the tree’s epic journey from Colorado to Washington, D.C. with whistle stops along the way.

With a galaxy of LED lights and thousands of handmade ornaments and gifts for the tree – made by the children of Colorado – anyone with a smart phone can see a picture of the People’s Tree or actually see it in person if they happen to be in Washington, D.C. through New Year’s Day.

The pandemic presented unique challenges and disruptions this year, and for some, personal tragedies. But it did not stop the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from shining through it all. Now that’s a Christmas story worth telling.

Category/Topic: Forestry