It’s here: The 75-foot-tall Christmas tree known as the “People’s Tree” has arrived at the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree came via truck more than 3,000 miles from the Willamette National Forest, in the area of Blue River, Ore. It will be lit Dec. 5 at 5 p.m. by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
A video showed a crew working Monday morning in pouring rain to use a crane to get the large tree in place outside the Capitol.
Getting a large Christmas tree for the Capitol from national forests is a tradition that goes back nearly 50 years. As the tree journeys from where it was grown, it typically stops in about 20 communities along the way. The tree travels on the bed of a truck in a specially built box wrapped in banners.
It is chosen in August by the architect of the Capitol and the U.S. Forest Service. The tree is harvested in early November and then makes the trek across the country.
The tree is often dubbed the “People’s Tree.”
This year the tree is a Noble fir (Abies procera), marking the first time such a tree was picked, according to officials with the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program. It will get decorated with handmade ornaments from Oregon residents and will sit on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol.
The tree has to be perfect on all sides, according to the architect of the Capitol. It has to be full and have firm branching to hold the ornaments. But it can’t be too stiff because it has to fit on a tractor trailer.
After a search across areas of lakes, roads and even near an air strip, officials said they found a perfect tree in the wild. It was sitting about seven miles off a logging road at the bottom of a valley in a moist area.
Jim Kaufmann, the director of Capitol grounds and arboretum for the architect of the Capitol, wrote in a blog, “Trees growing in a natural habitat do not grow like a farm grown Christmas tree.
"Nature grows these trees not to be a perfect visual specimen, but to survive.”
The tree he spotted had “great symmetry,” and where it stood made it easier for equipment to get in to harvest it. Kaufmann wrote, “The tree was looking like it was the one!”
This isn’t the only famous Christmas tree in Washington. The other is the White House’s National Christmas Tree. That one is a living tree that stays in place, standing about 47 feet tall. It has handmade ornaments made to represent each state and is lit by the first family.
This year, the National Christmas Tree will be lit Nov. 28 with a ceremony that includes live performances. Tickets to the event are free but are given through an online lottery that took place in October.
The first lighting of the National Christmas Tree took place on Christmas Eve in 1923 by President Calvin Coolidge.