U.S. Capitol Christmas tree arrives to D.C. from Colorado

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 2:51 PM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree arrived in D.C. on Friday morning after more than 3,000 miles on the open road from the Colorado. The spruce, which was cut down outside the town of Montrose at the Uncompahgre National Forest, began its cross country journey on Nov. 10.

Apex Transportation truck driver Theron Schmalzried said transporting the special spruce was a memorable experience.

“I had a great time,” Schmalzried said. “I’ve never done anything like this before.”

Schmalzried was one of the two drivers who drove the tree from Colorado to the nation’s capital. His leg of the journey, from Denver to D.C., was more than 1,600 miles.

People of all ages waved and welcomed the tree with open arms on the way.

“Just seeing the kids’ reactions when they could get up close the tree and write their name on the banners,” Schmalzried said, “just the happiness, everyone was glad to be there in a year where there maybe wasn’t a whole bunch of happiness.”

The spruce is part of a tradition dating back more than 50 years. The first Capitol Christmas Tree was placed outside the Capitol in 1964. This year’s tree is 82-year-old Englemann Spruce, standing at 55 feet tall, 25 feet wide.

Each year, the USDA’s U.S. Forest Service chooses a different national forest to provide the famed tree. The Capitol Christmas tree is called the “People’s Tree”.

Lawrence Lujan, a public affairs specialist at USDA Forest Service, traveled with the tree for the entire 11-day trip.

“We are excited to finally be here,” he said.

Lujan said the goal of the multi-day event--be a beacon of hope for Americans.

“It did touch, move and inspire me,” Lujan said. “It brought a smile to my face and I know it brought a smile to theirs and that’s what this project is all about is spreading that holiday cheer across the country.”

The spruce will remain on the West Lawn of the Capitol through the holiday season and will be decorated with ornaments donated by Coloradans. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office team said they are still working on setting a date for the tree lighting .

To find out more about this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree and its trip across the country, click here.