A 63-foot Sierra white fir from Stanislaus National Forest arrived Monday morning and is now gracing the west front lawn of the Capitol.
From just after its Nov. 5 harvest on the national forest until its arrival Monday, the Californian tree trekked 4, 500 miles, spanning nine states and making 24 stops.
Stephen Ayers, Architect of the Capitol, and Ted Bechtol, superintendent of the Capitol Grounds, accepted the tree from the U.S. Forest Service, and welcomed the tree and its accompanying team from Stanislaus National Forest upon their arrival.
“We’re excited to be here,” said Maria Benech, Forest Service Capitol Christmas Tree coordinator. “We’re very honored to provide the tree from the state of California as a gift to the people of the nation.”
After the Forest Service presented the tree to Ayers, the capitol grounds crew used a mobile crane to carefully lift the tree from its flatbed truck and move it to the west lawn.
“Over a period of several hours, it is positioned in place, straightened, and supported with cables that are attached to ground anchors,” Bechtol said.
It will take approximately one week for the capitol grounds crew to decorate the tree, according to Bechtol. The crew will decorate the tree with approximately 3,000 ornaments and about 10,000 energy-efficient lights.
The tree “brings people together and I think that’s what the season’s about,” Benech said. “I hope that’s what the tree has done as it traveled across the country.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner will light the Capitol Christmas Tree at a 5 p.m. ceremony Dec. 6, along with 7-year-old Johnny Crawford from Sonora, Calif., who was randomly selected to light the tree with Boehner.