The 65-foot white fir Christmas tree that will be illuminated at the base of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. this Christmas season, has begun its 4,500-mile trek from the Stanislaus National Forest in northern California en route to the nation’s capital.
The tree’s journey, which is under the supervision of the U.S. Forest Service, began Saturday, Nov. 5 in the Stanislaus National Forest and will arrive in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 28. The official lighting ceremony at the U.S. Capitol will be Dec. 6, hosted by Speaker of the House John Boehner. A seven year old Sonoma, Calif., boy will officially light the tree, which is to be decorated with 10,000 lights and 3,000 ornaments.
The Diesel Technology Forum is one of the national sponsors of the U.S. Christmas Tree Tour and will provide daily Twitter and Facebook updates on its expedition across the country. Other sponsors also include DTF members Volvo Powertrain, Mack Trucks and Robert Bosch LLC, Diesel Systems North America.
Capitol Christmas Tree Expedition A Showcase of Clean Diesel Technology
“The Mack Truck transporting the tree across the country is a showcase of clean diesel technology, one of the many pieces of modern diesel technology that will play a role in getting ‘The People's Tree’ to our nation’s capital,” said Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum.
"From the diesel-powered crane that placed the tree in the clean diesel truck that will transport it across the country using ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, clean diesel technology plays a critical role in this holiday project as it does in the daily lives of all Americans. In addition, diesel-powered backup generators will provide power for the 12 ceremonies in communities along the journey designed to help celebrate this national event.”
The truck is a SmartWay-certified Pinnacle Axle Back model sleeper that meets California's 2010 emission standards, which are the strictest in the country.
"The emissions from this truck are near zero, thanks to its more efficient engine and its new emissions control technology,” Schaeffer said. “It's as clean as a compressed natural gas truck."
He added that the nationwide availability of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel gives the U.S. Forest Service great flexibility in choosing its routes across the country, compared with the limited availability of other fuel sources.
As sponsors of the tour, the Diesel Technology Forum, Volvo Group, Mack Trucks and Robert Bosch LLC Diesel Systems North America, are among several major sponsors whose logos are printed on the 54-foot banner that surrounds the cargo trailer that carries the 65-foot tree.
“We couldn’t do the tour without their support,” said Maria Benech, the 2011 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree  coordinator.
Capitol Christmas Tree Tour
The following is an overview of upcoming events being planned in connection with the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour in California and across the country:
- Nov. 10: The tree will arrive in Modesto at 10 a.m. and Merced by 2 p.m., with stops allowing people to sign the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree banner.
- Nov. 11: The tree will be showcased in the Fresno Veterans Day Parade in late morning (beginning about 11 a.m.) and will make a stop at the Fresno Children’s Hospital in Madera about 2 p.m. The tree is also scheduled to arrive in Kingsburg between 4 and 5 p.m.
- Nov. 12: The tree will be at the Saugus Speedway/Swap Meet in the city of Santa Clarita from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Nov. 13: The tree will be in Los Angeles at the parking lot of the Autry National Center in Griffith Park, near the Los Angeles Zoo between 9 and 11 a.m.
- Nov. 14: The tree is scheduled to make stops in Rancho Cucamonga and Barstow.
- Nov. 15: Travel Day.
- Nov. 16: Gallup, N.M. Activities are being planned for the afternoon in Gallup, including presentations by city officials, a high school choir and a safe trip blessing from a Navajo Medicine Man.
- Nov. 17: Gallup, N.M. to Santa Fe, N.M.
- Nov. 18: Santa Fe, N.M. to Amarillo, Texas.
- Nov. 19: Amarillo, Texas to Tinker Air Force Base, near Oklahoma City.
- Nov. 20: Tinker Air Force Base to Ft. Leonard Wood, near Waynesville, Mo.
- Nov. 21: Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., to Santa Claus, Ind. Children’s activities are being planned for mid-afternoon outside the Santa Claus Christmas Store, which will offer hot chocolate and fudge samples during an event celebrating the arrival of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.
- Nov. 22: Santa Claus, Ind. to Cherokee, N.C.
- Nov. 23: The tree is scheduled to be at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds in Cherokee, N.C. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The day begins with a traditional gift exchange between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wok Indians and will be followed by a musical presentation by the Cherokee Elementary Chorus and Kituwah Language Academy students. Students will also be able to make their own holiday ornaments after the formal event.
- Nov. 24: Cherokee, N.C., to Greensboro, N.C. The tree is scheduled to be on display from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. just outside of a seasonal ice skating rink in Greensboro’s downtown area.
- Nov. 25: Newport News, Va., Oyster Point City Center.
- Nov. 26: Hershey, Pa., Hershey Entertainment Complex.
- Nov. 27 Hershey, Pa.
- Nov. 28: The tree arrives in Washington, D.C.
- Dec. 5: A tribal elder from the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wok Indians blesses a Christmas tree from Stanislaus National Forest that will be erected at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the Native American.
- Dec. 6th: U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony begins at 5 p.m. at the U.S. Capitol Mall. The event is open to the public.