US Capitol Christmas Tree

Enchantment is in the Air

Monday, November 11, 2019

 

By Ricardo Martinez, Deputy District Ranger, Carson National Forest - A team of USDA Forest Service employees in New Mexico embarked on the first day of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour.  With a nod to the project’s theme of “Delivering Enchantment”, the day included a tour of the Enchanted Circle, with stops at the Village of Questa, Eagle Nest, near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire, and concluded with a community celebration in Taos.

The team got an early start at the facility where the tree was packaged for transport, courtesy of MTC, Inc., north of Questa. Before hitting the road, the New Mexico themed Kenworth W990 underwent a thorough inspection by New Mexico State Police.

In observance of Veteran’s Day, the team and their host communities made honoring Veterans a through line of the day. In Questa, after a viewing of the tree at Alta Vista Elementary, the community gathered to offer a “Veterans’ Salute” to the tree as it left town, before commencing a follow-on ceremony in honor of the village’s veterans. At Eagle Nest, the high school band from nearby Cimarron played a set of patriotic numbers, including the fight songs from each of the armed services, as community members enjoyed the lunch and Christmas cookie reception sponsored by the town.

While size limitations prevented the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from driving directly to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire, the staff at the memorial directed the convoy to a nearby roadside pullout with an incredible view of the memorial.From there, visitors signed the banners and engaged with the project team, memorial staff and visiting dignitaries including New Mexico’s Lieutenant Governor Morales and staff from the office of U.S. Senator Tom Udall.

The day concluded in Taos with the largest event of the day, as several hundred community members filled Civic Plaza Drive. Attendees observed a ceremonial posting of the colors by a VFW provided color guard and participated in the pledge of allegiance, led by Taos Mayor, Dan Barrone. The event included remarks by County Manager, Brent Jaramillo, who joined the County Commission in presenting Challenge Coins to the leaders of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree project on the Carson National Forest. Forest Service employees Ricardo Martinez and Jack Lewis shared gratitude for the support of the People’s Tree before Mariachi El Tigre of Taos High School stole the show, regaling onlookers with a flourish of sound and energy befitting the event’s fanfare.

The team looks forward to day 2 of 14 with stops at Taos Pueblo, Chama, and Dulce.

 

Tree Cutting and Celebration Kicks Off Nationwide Tour for the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Thursday, November 07, 2019

People from all over the Land of Enchantment witnessed the harvesting of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from the Carson National Forest. The event, which was several months in the making, kicked off shortly after sunrise on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019.

Before the 60-foot blue spruce was harvested, an audience listened to remarks from several dignitaries, including Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Governor of New Mexico. She tells us about the pride she and other New Mexicans share about the public lands found in New Mexico. "New Mexico is incredibly proud of our beautiful forests and great outdoors," said the Governor. "It's such a privilege to share a small piece of our public lands with the nation’s capitol for this year's celebration."

Once the tree was cut from the ground, it was hoisted into the air by cranes provided by Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC. The tree was then placed and secured onto a Kenworth W900 transport trailer provided by Hale Trailer and removed from the Carson National Forest to embark on a nationwide tour. The tour kicks off on Nov. 11 and will visit 30 communities before arriving in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 25, 2019.

 

This is not the first time the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was harvested from a national forest in the Southwestern Region of the USDA Forest Service. In 2009, a blue spruce tree was harvested from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in Arizona. An Engelmann spruce tree was harvested from the Santa Fe National Forest in 2005. The first U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree harvested from the Southwestern Region of the Forest Service was a blue spruce from the Carson National Forest in 1991.

Cal Joyner, Regional Forester of the Southwestern Region of the Forest Service, calls it an honor to provide the capitol with a Christmas tree once again. "Service is in our name, it’s one of our core values, it's an honor to serve all of you every day," Joyner said to onlookers at Wednesday’s harvest. "The Forest Service is excited to celebrate the diversity of New Mexico." Video of the 2019 Capitol Christmas Tree harvest is available on the Carson National Forest's Facebook page.

 

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree cutting and celebrations are made possible with donations of time and resources from companies large and small as well as volunteers locally and across America. Sponsors include Kenworth Truck Company, Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC, Spireon, Inc., Elvis Duran & Alex Carr, Hale Trailer, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Great West Casualty Company, Meritor, Public Service Company of New Mexico, TravelCenters of America, Truckload Carriers Association, Husqvarna, Town of Red River, The Joy Trip Project, Alaska Airlines, Heritage Hotels & Resorts, Taos County, New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, National Forest Foundation, Red River Brewing Company, Christmas Tree Promotion Board, National Press Club, LexisNexis VitalChek Network, Inc., Bass Pro Shops, Red River Ski & Summer Area, Lifts West and MTC, Inc

To follow the tree during the journey to Washington, D.C., visit www.capitoltreetracker.com.

Gov. Lujan Grisham announces winner of 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Essay Contest

Monday, November 04, 2019

Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Carson National Forest on Monday announced Asher Dean, a fourth grader from Arroyos del Norte Elementary in Arroyo Seco, as the winner of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Essay Contest. 

Hundreds of essays were submitted to the contest, for which fourth graders from around New Mexico were invited to write about why they love New Mexico’s forests and public lands in line with the theme of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, “Delivering Enchantment!” With his winning entry, Mr. Dean has won a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and join Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Speaker of the House in lighting the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.  

“New Mexico is proud to be providing this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “I was so encouraged by the many wonderful essay submissions we received about the importance of New Mexico’s public lands and forests. Asher’s essay spoke so eloquently about the beauty he sees in New Mexico public lands, and I am thrilled that he’ll be joining me in our nation’s capital to see a beautiful tree from Northern New Mexico on display for so many to enjoy.”

Every year, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service selects one lucky national forest to provide the best possible Christmas tree to place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building. The tradition of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, or the “People’s Tree,” began in 1964, and in 2019 New Mexico will be providing the tree for the third time.

This year’s tree, coming from the Red River area in the Questa Ranger District of the Carson National Forest, will be felled in a cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 6. The contest was organized in coordination with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service and supported by the non-profit organization, Choose Outdoors.