US Capitol Christmas Tree News

Twas the day of the Tree Cuttting

Friday, November 06, 2020

Dana Gardunio is a District Ranger for the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests, Ouray Ranger District. She is a project lead of this year's U.S Capitol Christmas Tree and read this poem as a part of Nov. 5 tree cutting ceremony. Enjoy!

Twas the day of the cutting, when all through the forest
Not a creature was stirring, not even a tourist;
The saws were staged by the tree with care,
In hopes that the crowd soon would be there;
Coloradans were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of Christmas trees danced in their heads;
And Chad in his 'kerchief, and me in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for our long winter nap,
When out on the forest there arose such a clatter,
We sprang from our offices to see what was the matter.
Away to the Plateau we flew like a flash,
Hiked over the Divide Road and climbed over the slash.
The sunlight shining on the new-fallen snow,
Gave a luster of many a speaker below;
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But an 80 ft trailer all loaded with gear,
With a little old logger so lively and merry,
I knew in a moment he must be Sawyer Perry.
More rapid than eagles his swampers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of Mt. Sneffels! to the top of the Grand Mesa tall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away to Washington, DC all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild snowstorm fly,
The sleigh crossed Colorado, a state that’s mile high;
Across the Rockies the elves they flew
With the sleigh full of trees, and ornaments too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the news
“Experience Your Nature,” any adventure you choose
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the highway Cathy Ritter and Jodi Massey came with a bound.
They were dressed all in outdoor gear, from their heads to their toes,
And their clothes were all branded with Capitol Christmas Tree logos;
A bundle of sponsors they had flung on their backs,
And they looked like hikers just opening their packs.
Their eyes—how they twinkled! their dimples, how merry!
Their cheeks were like roses, their noses like a cherry!
Now the cranes, their cables were drawn up like a bow,
To load the tree on the “sleigh” and get ready to go;
The cradle held the tree tightly in its teeth,
And the banner, it encircled the tree like a wreath;
The drivers, oh how they were so bright and jolly,
Spreading Christmas joy while singing “deck the halls with boughs of holly.”
Over 4 million miles of road time, they were experienced old elfs,
And I grinned when I saw them, in spite of myself;
A wink of their eyes and a twist of the head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
Their team spoke not a word, but went straight to their work,
And drove the tree right into DC; then turned with a jerk;
And laying a finger aside of their nose,
And giving a nod, up on the West Lawn the tree rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all went like the down of a thistle.
But I heard them exclaim, as they drove out of sight—
“Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!”

2020 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Cutting Ceremony

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Virtual Opportunity to View Historic 2020 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Cutting

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Press release - Delta, Colorado, October 28, 2020– After over a year of planning, the time has come to harvest the 2020 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree — a 55’ tall and 25’ wide Engelman Spruce — from the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests.

The virtual cutting ceremony will take place on Thursday, Nov. 5 within the GMUG National Forests and will include brief remarks by USDA Forest Service leadership, local elected officials and project partners. A livestream of the ceremony and cutting will be available on the GMUG National Forests Facebook page.

The cutting ceremony will begin at 2:30 p.m. MT. The tree will be cut using a STIHL MS 500i chainsaw and supported by cranes provided by Valley Cranes. The tree will be placed on a trailer provided by Hale Trailer before being transported off the forest by a Kenworth T680.

Once wrapped and secured, the tree will begin its journey to Washington, D.C., Nov. 10. The tree will visit 10 communities for a series of outdoor festivities hosted by local communities at fair grounds, schools, main streets, visitor centers, convention centers and retailers. Well-wishers will have a chance to take photos, sign banners on the sides of the truck, learn more about the GMUG National Forests and the great state of Colorado and more. Festivities are free and open to the public.

Safety of tour staff, event attendees and the tree are the top priority. Face coverings are required for all events and social distancing will be maintained. Along the way, we ask the public to be aware of the truck’s blind spots, wide turning radius, and longer stopping distances on the road so we can all arrive safely to our destinations.

*Subject to change. Monitor website at www.uscapitolchristmastree.com for the latest updates. Follow along online at and @uscapitolchristmastree on Facebook and Instagram.

 

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Journey to D.C. Begins Nov. 6

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Press Release- Each year, a different national forest provides a tree to light up the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building for the holiday season. The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests in partnership with nonprofit partner Choose Outdoors and Colorado Tourism will bring this special gift from Colorado to Washington, D.C. for the 2020 holiday season with special events in 10 communities along the way.

The tree’s journey officially begins Nov. 6 when it will be cut on the Uncompahgre National Forest. Before the cutting, a short ceremony will take place and include remarks by USDA Forest Service leadership, local elected officials and project partners. A livestream of the ceremony and cutting will be available for viewing online on the GMUG National Forests Facebook page.

On Nov. 10, the tree will visit 10 communities for a series of outdoor festivities hosted by local communities at fair grounds, schools, main streets, visitor centers, convention centers and retailers. Well-wishers will have a chance to take photos, sign banners on the sides of the truck, learn more about the GMUG National Forests and the great state of Colorado and more. Festivities are free and open to the public for all to enjoy.

Beginning Nov.10, the tree’s journey can be tracked in real time online at capitoltreetracker.com hosted by Spireon, Inc., with tour stops* including:

Tuesday, Nov. 10
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. MST San Miguel CountyFairgrounds (1165 Summit St, Norwood, CO 81423)
3:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. MST Montrose Visitor Center (107 S Cascade Ave., Montrose, CO 81401)

Wednesday, Nov. 11
9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. MST Ouray County Courthouse (541 4th St, Ouray, CO 81427)
5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. MST Grand Junction Convention Center (159 Main St, Grand Junction, CO 81501)

Thursday, Nov. 12
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. MST Downtown Paonia (Grand Avenue, Between 2nd and 3rd Street, Paonia, CO 81428)
2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. MST Gunnison Community School (1099 N 11th St, Gunnison, CO 81230) *For students and families.

Friday, Nov. 13
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.MST Salida High School - Student Parking Lots (26 Jones Avenue, Salida, CO 81201)

Saturday, Nov. 14
5 p.m. – 7 p.m. MST Bass Pro Shops (7970 Northfield Blvd, Denver, CO 80238)

Tuesday, Nov. 17
3 p.m. – 6 p.m. EST Asheville Outlets (800 Brevard Rd Suite 805, Asheville, NC 28806)

Friday, Nov. 20:
Delivery to West Lawn, U.S. Capitol Building

Safety of tour staff, event attendees and the tree are the top priority. Face coverings are required for all events and social distancing will be maintained. Along the way, we ask the public to be aware of the large truck’s huge blind spots, wide turns, and longer stopping distances on our roads so we can all arrive safely to our destinations.

The initiative made possible with cash and in-kind contributions from companies large and small as well as volunteers locally and across America, who provide vital support of time and resources. 2020 sponsors include Kenworth Truck Company, Apex Transportation, 42 Degrees North Media, Spireon, Inc., Hale Trailer, Chuck Leavell, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, STIHL, Truckload Carriers Association, Great West Casualty Company, Valley Crane, Red Wing Shoes, National Forest Foundation, Society of American Foresters, LexisNexis VitalChek Network, Inc., The Joy Trip Project, Loki, Montrose County, Delta County, Seirus, TravelCenters of America, Bass Pro Shops, Citizens State Bank and Vesmir.

Follow along online at www.uscapitolchristmastree.com and @uscapitolchristmastree on Facebook and Instagram.


*Subject to change. Monitor website at www.uscapitolchristmastree.com/tour for the latest updates.

Apex Transportation to Haul the 2020 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Press Release – The holiday season will be a little brighter this year with the help of Apex Transportation, as it takes on the role of transporting the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington, D.C. An annual gift to the nation, the 2020 tree will make its way to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building from the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests in Colorado.

Apex Transportation was chosen as the hauler for this year’s tree at the recommendation of Great West Casualty Company and based on industry reputation in Colorado, according to Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors, the non-profit partner that assists USDA Forest Service with coordinating the annual public engagement initiative. The tree will be harvested in early November before making the in-state and cross country journey, arriving at the U.S. Capitol in late November. The tree will be decorated with thousands of ornaments made by Coloradans and will light up the nation’s Capitol throughout December.

Opening its doors in 1996, Apex Transportation had humble beginnings with four trucks, a handful of employees, and ambition. With more than 65 trucks and nearing 90 employees, Apex maintains its success by remembering those early days creating strong relationships within the industry and nurturing a family-like atmosphere that keeps us rolling. With locations in Denver and Pueblo, Colorado, Apex serves the state of Colorado and surrounding states with the ability to go anywhere they are needed. It has been recognized with numerous awards from the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, along with the Pinnacol Assurance Workplace Safety Award and Great West Fleet Safety Awards.

“Being selected to be a part of such a high profile and important symbol for the American people is truly exciting beyond words for us at Apex Transportation,” said Walt Schattinger, president of Apex Transportation. “We are humbled by the graciousness of those who chose us and value their belief and trust in Apex with this incredible adventure. We are deeply honored to have the opportunity to represent the beauty of our state, the integrity of our company and tradition of our country.”

The tree will be in great hands with two Apex employees who will ensure the precious cargo is safely delivered. Theron Schmalzried has 42 years and 4 million miles of experience under his belt. He has received numerous awards during his 23 years with Apex, the most recent being the Long Haul Driver of the Month in September 2019. William “Butch” Hanna has been driving for 41 years, including 17 with Apex Transportation. With more than 105,000 hours, he also has numerous internal awards, including Short Haul Driver of the month in October 2019.

Kenworth Truck Company returns for a seventh year as a sponsor of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program. A specially decaled Kenworth T680 will transport the 50th U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree provided by the USDA Forest Service. Additional transportation partners supporting the journey include Spireon, Inc., Hale Truck and Trailer, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Truckload Carriers Association, TravelCenters of America and LexisNexis VitalChek Network, Inc.

“The annual journey is only possible with the help of strong partnerships throughout Colorado and beyond state lines,” said Dana Gurdunio, District Ranger, GMUG National Forests. “We’re grateful for the resources Apex Transportation, Kenworth Truck Company and all our partners are providing to help make this the best tour to date.”

For more information on how to get involved, please visit the GMUG National Forests website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/gmug. Follow along the tree’s journey at www.uscapitolchristmastree.com.

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U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Selected Virtually

Thursday, September 10, 2020

 

Press Release - Each year, one of the nation’s national forests provides the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which graces the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. throughout the holiday season. The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests, in partnership with the Architect of the Capitol, announced that this year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be harvested from the Uncompahgre Plateau on the Ouray Ranger District.

The perfect Capitol Christmas Tree must meet specific criteria. The selected Engelmann Spruce stands 55’ tall and 25’ wide and was chosen virtually from among 10 candidates. “The challenge in selecting a tree for the West Lawn is making sure it is symmetrical, full and in the perfect scale to gracefully adorn the U.S. Capitol. In a normal year, we scour the forest for this special tree. Due to the pandemic, we used videos, pictures and measurements supplied by the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests to identify a suitable Engelmann Spruce that all Coloradans can be proud of,” said Jim Kaufmann, Director of Capitol Grounds and Arboretum for the Architect of the Capitol.

The tree will be harvested in early November before making its journey to the East Coast, arriving at the U.S. Capitol in late November. The Capitol Grounds and Arboretum team will secure and decorate the tree with thousands of handcrafted ornaments from the people of Colorful Colorado. The tree will be lit in early December 2020; the annual lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is a time-honored tradition of more than 50 years.

Choose Outdoors, Colorado Tourism and a host of other partners, sponsors, and volunteers are contributing funding and in-kind support of the project. GMUG Forest Supervisor Chad Stewart noted that it’s been a true collaborative effort so far. “This year’s tree selection was a little nonconventional, but we are very excited to have the tree selected and look forward to the next phase of the project, planning the tree cutting ceremony,” he said.

For more information on how to get involved, please visit the GMUG National Forest website. To learn more about the history of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, please visit the Architect of the Capitol website.

 

'Tis the season to make ornaments

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) are providing one large tree for the West Lawn and 70+ smaller companion trees to adorn offices throughout Washington, D.C. for the 2020 holiday season. Thanks to Coloradans, we are on our way to provide 10,000 handmade ornaments to decorate the trees. Interested and inspired to make your own? There's still time to submit yours, but hurry: ornaments are respectfully requested by Sept. 1. 


WHAT TO MAKE

Large and small ornaments are needed. Large should be 9-12 inches in size that are colorful, reflective and weatherproof to withstand the elements. Small ornaments should be 4-6 inches and be lightweight and colorful.

Here are our 2020 themes to help determine what ornament(s) you’d like to make.  

1. SMOKEY BEAR—Smokey hat, face, fire prevention messages.
2. UNIQUELY COLORADO—State welcome sign, Colorado C, state symbols.
3. AGRICULTURE—Farming, ranching.
4. WILDLIFE—Deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep.
5. PLANTS/FLOWERS—Cactus, flowers, trees.
6. RECREATION—Hunting, fishing, camping, skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, boating.
7. MINING—Gold, silver, coal, uranium, gypsum.
8. WATER—Lakes, streams, rivers, water uses, water sports, winter sports.
9. DINOSAURS AND FOSSILS—Stegosaurus, triceratops, fossils.
10. PLACES WE LOVE—Landscapes of Colorado


WHERE TO SEND THEM
Please make sure your ornaments are dry, boxed carefully so they don’t break and include a count of how many provided. Drop off or send in your ornaments to:

Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests
Supervisor’s Office
Attn: Cande Read, 2250 South Main Street, Delta, CO, 81416

*Please make arrangements prior to dropping off ornaments by contacting Cande Read (email or phone 970-874-6609).

Ornaments are DUE BY September, 1, 2020


 

Governor Polis, Forest Service Celebrate U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from Colorado

Monday, July 27, 2020

Delta, CO – Governor Jared Polis with USDA Forest Service Acting Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region, Jennifer Eberlien, Director of Communications and Sponsorships, Jodi Massey and Director Cathy Ritter from the Colorado Tourism Office, announced the kick-off of the 2020 Capitol Christmas Tree project. Governor Polis and special guests encouraged Coloradans to “Experience Your Nature”, the theme of this year’s tree, and get involved with making an ornament for the tree.

“I’m thrilled that one of Colorado’s magnificent Engelmann Spruce is heading to Washington D.C. to represent our state at the U.S. Capitol during the holidays this year,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Coloradans are proud of our state’s natural beauty, forests, and incredible outdoor spaces, and I’m glad the rest of the country will be able to see a small piece of the majesty that Colorado offers. While this is a difficult time for people across our state and across the country, I hope that Colorado’s contribution to the national Christmas spirit can help bring us all together.”

Every year since 1970, USDA Forest Service has provided the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. Several smaller, companion trees will also be sent to Washington, D.C., to decorate government buildings and public spaces. Providing the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, also known as “The People’s Tree,” is a great honor for the State of Colorado and the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests. It provides an opportunity to highlight the state’s breathtaking cultural and natural resources and Colorado’s world-class recreational settings and activities. The tree will be displayed on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., with a public tree-lighting ceremony in early December 2020.

“The GMUG is honored and excited to be providing the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The GMUG plays an important role in Experiencing Your Nature and we look forward to highlighting all that the GMUG has to offer. We are thrilled about the opportunity to work with and showcase the great state of Colorado” said Acting Regional Forester, Jennifer Eberlien.

“We sincerely hope the gift of this towering tree from Colorado for the Capitol lawn helps inspire deep pride in America the Beautiful and happiness throughout the holidays, while showcasing the splendor of Colorado’s Mountains and Mesas region," said Colorado Tourism Director Cathy Ritter."

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree initiative is made possible with cash and in-kind contributions from companies large and small as well as volunteers locally and across America, who provide vital support of time and resources. Sponsors include Kenworth Truck Company, Apex Transportation, Spireon, Inc., Hale Trailer, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Truckload Carriers Association, Great West Casualty Company**, LexisNexis VitalChek Network, Inc., TravelCenters of America, Montrose County Event Center and Bass Pro Shops.

The Forest will be working closely with Choose Outdoors for the project along with a host of other partners, sponsors and volunteers who will contribute funding and thousands of hours to help make ornaments and transport the tree from Colorado to Washington, D.C.

“The annual journey is only possible with the help of strong community partnerships throughout Colorado and beyond state lines,” said Bruce Ward, President of Choose Outdoors. “We’re grateful for the time and resources that are generously provided to celebrate our public lands and help bring hope and joy to the nation.”

Communities will be encouraged to share the experience of caring for, decorating and transporting this gift from Colorado to Washington D.C. For more information on how to get involved and follow the excitement visit the Capitol Christmas Tree website at https://www.uscapitolchristmastree.com.

 

‘The People’s Tree’ Lights up the Capitol

Friday, December 06, 2019

 

A special gift from the Carson National Forest has successfully completed its cross-country journey to Washington, D.C.

Harvested on Nov. 6, 2019, the massive 60-foot blue spruce, known affectionately as the “People’s Tree,” traveled over 2,000 miles and stopped for celebrations in 25 communities before arriving at the U.S. Capitol in late November. Today, the tree stands on the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building and is decorated with thousands of handcrafted ornaments made by New Mexicans.

The tree was lit Wednesday evening by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi during a public tree lighting ceremony on the West Front Lawn.

Season 15 winner of the Voice, Chevel Shephard, kicked off the Christmas spirit with a traditional melody, followed by the U.S. Army Brass Quintet and remarks from the New Mexico Delegation, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, and USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.

The tree will be lit from nightfall until 11 p.m. each evening through Jan. 1, 2020.

The annual lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is an honored tradition of more than 50 years. In fact, the “People’s Tree” dates back to 1964 when Architect of the Capitol J. George Stewart, at the suggestion of the Speaker of the House John W. McCormack, established the yearly tradition of decorating a tree on the West Front Lawn. Since 1970, the USDA Forest Service has provided the trees. Each year a different national forest has been invited to provide “The People’s Tree” to celebrate the holidays. The Forest Service also works with state forests to provide smaller companion trees for offices in Washington, D.C.

 

An inside look at the New Mexican products traveling with the US Capitol Christmas tree

Monday, November 25, 2019

As seen on KOB 4

A 60 foot blue spruce from New Mexico has spent the last two weeks traveling across the country. The journey has taken the tree to the U.S. Capitol to be this year's Christmas tree.

The tree wasn't the only thing headed to the U.S. Capitol, though. Those who got to see the tree also were able to get their hands on some classic New Mexican products.

To learn more, watch the interview with Debi and Pat Bartucci of Statewide Products.