US Capitol Christmas Tree

Who Gets to Decorate the “People’s Tree”?

Friday, September 20, 2019

 

Providing 10,000 handcrafted Christmas ornaments to adorn the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and 70 companion trees is no small feat, but with the help of the community, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is well on its way to achieving that goal! Every year, the Forest Service selects a different national forest to provide the iconic tree and all the trimmings. This year, it will hail from the Questa Ranger District of northern New Mexico’s Carson National Forest, and communities from all over the state are coming together to help deliver a piece of the enchantment of New Mexico, to the rest of the country. The Village of Questa, New Mexico, and their local farmers market are great examples of the overwhelming community involvement that makes the tradition of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree possible.

Nestled among the majestic conifers of the Enchanted Circle sits the small mining community of Questa, New Mexico. Officially founded in 1842, the Village of Questa is in many ways the quintessential northern New Mexican town, while also representing a broader, small-town American, post-industrial march into modernity. The Questa Farmers Market is an expression of that social and economic transition — and a tasty one at that!

With the creation of the market, this tight-knit community along the Red River decided to go back to their farming and ranching roots. From Costilla to Taos, community members come together every Sunday during the summer, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., to sell their fresh confections, produce, meat, flowers, and arts and crafts. Local musician Chris Arellano, a native of Costilla, frequently plays at the market, providing a uniquely New Mexican ambiance with a splash of Nashville thrown in for good measure.

Amid the smell of freshly baked horno-bread, the jubilation of local residents dancing the marcha — a line dance traditionally danced at weddings and celebrations — and the unique rhythms of New Mexican Spanish music, market-goers stop by the Forest Service table to put their personal flair on Christmas ornaments headed to Washington, D.C. Ornament makers punch designs into tin plates and color tree cookies, creating folk-art ornaments that are distinctly New Mexican.

The roots of agriculture in the area run deep, going back before the incorporation of the town. Originally known as San Antonio del Rio Colorado (St. Anthony of Red River), the settlement was later dubbed Questa — an anglicization of the Spanish word cuesta, meaning slope or hill — referring to the hill on which the town is situated. By the time the village was officially founded in 1842, Mexican settlers had been farming the Red River valley for many years; and Native American tribes like the Jicarilla Apache, Kiowa, Ute and Navajo had hunted on the land for generations. It seems fitting that this year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree should come from such a place, where agriculture has been an integral part of the local culture for so long.

Commercial mining shaped contemporary life in Questa as well. Molybdenum, a mineral used in the steel production, was mined in the area beginning in 1922. This supported the local economy and provided well-paying jobs for many in Questa and the surrounding communities. When the Chevron Corp. closed the mine in 2014, the resulting economic vacuum put the community’s resolve and resourcefulness to the test.

As the nation’s energy priorities shift and the demands on our natural resources change, small towns across the country are looking for ways to sustain themselves economically. For Questa, this means shifting their focus from mining to tourism and renewable energy. In this vein, Chevron already converted a substantial portion of the tailings facility from the now-defunct molybdenum mine into solar panels, and public meetings are being held for a possible solar farm in Cerro, New Mexico.

On the tourism front, Questa District Ranger Jack Lewis says he is committed to working with the community to help bolster tourism to the forest and surrounding areas. This includes plans to develop multiple trails for hiking, horseback riding and off-highway vehicle use, connecting the Village of Questa with the Town of Red River and its associated tourism.

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and the Questa Farmers Market are just a couple of examples of the exciting new things that are happening around the Enchanted Circle. Learn more about the Questa Farmers Market, trails and things to do in Questa, New Mexico, and U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree updates and events

   

 

Gov. Lujan Grisham, Carson National Forest announce 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree essay contest

Friday, September 13, 2019

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Carson National Forest on Friday announced an essay-writing contest for New Mexico fourth graders as part of the celebration of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which will come from the Land of Enchantment. The contest winner will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to join the Speaker of the House of Representatives in lighting the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

Fourth graders from around the state are invited to participate in the contest, writing 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!”

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, the tree will be coming from the Red River area in the Questa Ranger District of the Carson National Forest.

Ten thousand ornaments have been made by New Mexicans around the state to decorate the tree in Washington, D.C.

The “Every Kid in a Park” initiative invites all U.S. fourth graders and their families to experience our country’s natural treasures, rich history and vibrant culture. In that vein, the USDA Forest Service and Gov. Lujan Grisham invite fourth-grade students across New Mexico to tell us what you think makes our forests and public lands special. Gov. Lujan Grisham will select one winning student essay, whose author will be flown to Washington, D.C., along with a guardian, to attend festivities and light the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree during the first week of December.

The essay prompt was distributed to all New Mexico elementary schools and may also be found here. Submissions are due by October 4, 2019.

Ornament Drop off

Thursday, August 29, 2019

 

Calling all ornament makers! When your ornaments are complete, consider dropping off at one of two locations:

Drop off Event:
September 23-26 from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
September 27 between 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Southwestern Regional Office
333 Broadway SE, Albuquerque, NM 87102

Daily
Anytime prior to October between 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Carson National Forest Supervisor’s Office
208 Cruz Alta Rd., Taos, NM 87571

Visit the ornament page for more information on our project needs and suggested themes.

Download ornament drop off information.

 

 

Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC to Haul the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Friday, August 23, 2019

 

The holiday season will be a little brighter this year with the help of Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC, 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 2019 tree will make its way to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building from the Carson National Forest in New Mexico. This is the second time a tree has been selected from the Carson and third time from New Mexico.

Wilbanks Trucking also will provide crane support as the tree is cut in early November and prepared for the 2,000-mile expedition, which will include a series of 30+ community celebrations and culminate with the official tree lighting in early December.

Wilbanks Trucking was chosen as the hauler for this year’s tree at the recommendation of Great West Casualty Company and based on industry reputation in New Mexico, according to Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors, the non-profit partner that assists USDA Forest Service with coordinating the annual public engagement initiative.

Ronnie Wilbanks started the organization in 1987 with only a few trucks in the backyard in Artesia, NM and has since grown to employing 250 with additional locations in Hobbs, NM and Odessa, TX — weathering the storms of the boom and bust oil and gas industry. Many of Wilbanks’ trucks are custom built to assist in the construction of oil and gas rigs, and employees are experts in hauling oversized, overweight loads, making them the perfect fit to transport the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

“Wilbanks is proud to provide everyday logistics services to transport the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, and to represent New Mexico and its diverse resources spanning from the Oil and Gas Industry in the Permian Basin, to its beautiful national forests in Northern New Mexico,” said Shane Phipps, Safety Director, Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC.

Three Wilbanks employees will ensure the precious cargo is safely delivered, having been nominated by peers and selected by company leadership.

Josh Garcia is a second-generation employee whose passion for trucking started from the age of 6, riding along side with his father. Garcia’s father and uncle were the first two employees of Wilbanks Trucking in 1987. Garcia joined the team professionally straight out of high school in 2004. Starting as a swamper, Garcia obtained his CDL in 2006 and has obtained the skills to operate a gin pole truck, tandem, forklift loaders, and cranes. Promoted into management, his knowledge and skills in the rig moving industry have proved vital in overseeing daily field operations. Garcia says, “I feel honored to be selected as part of the transportation of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. I have hauled thousands of oversized loads in the oil and gas industry, so hauling the Capitol’s Christmas tree will be an amazing opportunity and exciting challenge.”

Josh Rice has been a part of the Wilbanks organization for more than 15 years and driving commercial vehicles for 20 years. As a third-generation rig mover, he is passionate about his profession, primarily servicing the oil and gas industry of eastern New Mexico and west Texas. Rice has hauled over 10,000 oversized loads including sub structures and derricks which range in weight from 50,000 to 200,000 pounds. He is NCCCO lattice boom certified to operate crawler cranes as well as forklift certified, and can also operate gin trucks and tandems. Rice says, “I feel a great sense of responsibility to be able to participate in this annual tradition. Christmas is my favorite holiday! This grand tree represents family and tradition to millions of Americans across the United States, as I know it does for me. This adventure will definitely be one of the most unique and memorable hightlights of my career.”

Brum Stephens has hauled everything from cattle and cotton to farm machinery and steel beams. He started in the oilfield in 1996, originally selling drill bits before launching his own business in 2000 providing rental trailers, manlifts and field welders with trucking services and support on rig moves. Stephens ultimately sold to and joined the Wilbanks Trucking team in 2013. About the honor Stephens says, “Less people have hauled a Christmas tree to the Capitol than have won the lottery. This is my lottery win! It will definitely be something I will never forget, and something that my children and grandchildren can look upon and have a sense of pride.”

Kenworth Truck Company returns for a sixth year as a sponsor of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program. A specially decaled Kenworth W990 will transport the 55th U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The Kenworth W990 is equipped with a 76-inch mid-roof sleeper and features the PACCAR Powertrain with PACCAR’s MX-13 engine rated at 455-hp and 1,650 lb-ft of torque, 12-speed automated transmission, and 40K tandem rear axle. The truck is also specified with the W990 Limited Edition interior, premium GT703 seats and audio system, Kenworth Nav+HD, predictive cruise control, 1800W inverter, 180-degree swivel passenger seat, and Kenworth TruckTech+® remote diagnostics. The W990 will provide a very comfortable work environment for this year’s tour drivers.

“Kenworth is proud to once again play a part in delivering the ‘People’s Tree’ to our nation’s capital,” said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director. “The cross-country tour offers the opportunity for people to see this national symbol of celebration, and the Kenworth W990 is the right truck for this important job.”

“The annual journey is only possible with the help of strong partnerships throughout New Mexico and beyond state lines,” said Ricardo Martinez, Deputy District Ranger, Carson National Forest. “We’re grateful for the resources Wilbanks Trucking and Kenworth Truck Company are providing to help make this the best tour to date.”

Additional transportation partners include Spireon, Inc., Truckload Carriers Association, Hale Trailer, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Meritor and LexisNexis VitalChek Network, Inc., in addition to local and national partners including Elvis Duran & Alex Carr, PNM Resources, Husqvarna, Alaska Airlines, Taos County, and Christmas Tree Promotion Board.

For related news, events and tour information, and to track the tree cross-country, visit www.uscapitolchristmastree.com, along with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

"Christmas in July” themed night at Isotopes Park this Friday

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

From NewMexico.org: The New Mexico Tourism Department announces the Albuquerque Isotopes home game on Friday, July 26, 6:35 pm, will be themed “Christmas in July” to celebrate New Mexico’s contribution of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree for 2019.

“We’re very fortunate that New Mexico was selected to supply the Capitol Christmas Tree for 2019 because this provides the opportunity to showcase New Mexico’s forests, outdoor experiences, and state pride on a national level,” said Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer. “We encourage all New Mexico residents to share their state pride by participating in ornament-building workshops and attending one of the many road stop events scheduled throughout New Mexico later in November when the tree begins its journey to Washington D.C.”

Families are encouraged to visit an ornament-building booth in the concourse where they will have the chance to create an ornament that will be displayed on the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree when it makes its way to Washington D.C. later this year.

The first 2,400 fans through the gates will also receive a free New Mexico True t-shirt.

The 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was selected from the Carson National Forest near Questa, NM. This will be the third time New Mexico will be supplying the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. New Mexico first supplied the tree in 1991 from the Carson National Forest, and again in 2005 from the Santa Fe National Forest. New Mexico residents who are interested in partaking in events and celebrations regarding the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree or tracking the tree’s eventual journey to Washington D.C. are encouraged to visit www.uscapitolchristmastree.com for more information on how to participate.

Officials go ‘shopping’ for US Capitol Christmas tree in Carson NF

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


QUESTA, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s only June, but U.S. Capitol workers are going Christmas tree shopping in northern New Mexico. This year, it’s New Mexico’s turn to supply a giant tree for Capitol Hill.

“I need to know my distance to the tree,” said a U.S. Forest Service worker. USFS workers are hard at work in the Carson National Forrest near Questa, trying to figure out how big this tree is.

“This tree is 49 feet tall,” said the USFS worker. Sadly, this tree is coming up short—almost 21 feet short of what they’re looking for.

“We’re selecting the 2019 US Capitol Christmas tree,” said Jim Kaufmann, Director of Capitol Grounds and Arboretum.

This year, the USFS picked New Mexico to find a Christmas tree grand enough for the west lawn at the U.S. Capitol. But in this forest, they’re having a tough time finding the perfect tree.

“I was really hoping the Forest Service was going to make my job easy, but they did not do that,” said Kaufmann. “They’ve made my job pretty difficult. They’ve showed me quite a number of really good candidates.”

Capitol workers said they’re looking for a tree that stands out, and well, stands up straight, too. “It has to be straight because behind the Christmas tree will be at the Washington Monument,” said Kaufmann.

The tree not only has to look good, but it also has to hold up thousands of handmade ornaments from New Mexicans showcasing all things New Mexico—like chile, hot air balloons, even Smokey Bear.

“When we take that tree to D.C. and it gets stood up on the west lawn of the Capitol…that it’s clear that the collage of the ornaments on there, that it’s representing New Mexico well,” said USFS Deputy District Ranger Ricardo Martinez.

Although they haven’t picked out a tree yet, they’re not ruling out any type of tree. Well, except for one.

“Charlie Brown Christmas trees make good trees too,” said Kaufmann. “But unfortunately, we will not be getting a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.”

Workers said they hope to find that Capitol tree by the end of the week. They will cut it down in November and then haul it off to D.C.

For more information about submitting New Mexico-themed ornaments to the USFS for the Capitol tree, click here.

New Mexico Senate introduces Memorial to Recognize 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

In the first session of 2019, Senator Carlos R. Cisneros (District 6, New Mexico) introduced Senate Memorial 127 to recognize the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be coming from New Mexico and encouraging leadership and residents throughout the state to get involved in festivities throughout the year.   Read the full Memorial here.

Excerpts include:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the importance of the Carson National Forest being chosen to provide the 2019 United States Capitol Christmas tree be recognized; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that legislators and residents of counties, tribal governments, municipalities and schools are encouraged to participate in ornament making; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that New Mexico legislators are urged to attend the festivities related to the tree lighting of the United States capitol Christmas tree on the White House west lawn; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the governor, the executive director of New Mexico counties, the secretary of public education, New Mexico's twenty-three Indian nations, tribes and pueblos, the chief of the United States Forest Service and the forest supervisor of the Carson National Forest.

Special thanks to Senator Cisneros and staff for their support!

 


 

 

Oregon Tourism Communications Program or Initiative Award Went to U.S. Forest Service, Willamette Valley National Forest, Choose Outdoors and the Willamette Valley Visitors Association

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Oregon Tourism Communications Program or Initiative Award, presented at the Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Eugene, commends an effective communications program or initiative that influences the positive reputation of an organization and inspires travelers as they choose destinations. This award celebrates the best domestic or international communications program or initiative that resulted in quality earned media coverage and inspired travel to Oregon.

The U.S. Forest Service, Willamette Valley National Forest, Choose Outdoors and the Willamette Valley Visitors Association were recognized for their work on the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Campaign. The 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree team, comprised of staff from the Willamette National Forest, Choose Outdoors, Travel Oregon, Weinstein PR, Willamette Valley Visitors Association, and many sponsors, collaborated to execute an incredibly successful nationwide campaign. The efforts of the team highlighted the value of experiencing and caring for public lands through the #ItsAllYours and the #FindYourTrail campaigns. In addition, visitors and locals were encouraged to get outdoors during the “Find Your Ornament” contest. The success of this project, including incredible media coverage totaling 284 stories reaching an audience of more than 438 million, was a direct result of bringing talented and creative team members in to achieve more together.

 


 

Papé and The Tree

Monday, December 10, 2018

 

“It’s hard to put into words the experiences I had — and continue to have — following the tree from the original site in the Willamette National Forest, through the State of Oregon Whistle Stops, and now on my way to D.C., to witness the lighting of the tree and festivities. For me, it’s been all about the people that have touched the process – the organizers, the sponsors, the U.S. Forest Service Team, the communities we visited – their pride in being a part of history – a reason to celebrate together.I look at my role as somewhat of an ambassador for Papé as I traveled through the State of Oregon – sharing information about Papé, our rich history in providing equipment and services for 80 years in the communities we live, and connecting with team members along the way.” — Heidi Coleman, Corporate Events Specialist

This event, as Heidi so eloquently stated, is not only a proud moment for Papé as our team traveled through Oregon, but an opportunity to impact our communities and home state during such an integral piece of U.S. holiday tradition. Connection, collaboration, and tradition - just a few words that come to mind when you ask various members of our company what Papé’s involvement has meant to them. For those that were able to attend either the tree cutting ceremony or any of the whistle stops, the sense of comradery and excitement was contagious. The time, effort, and sheer number of people it took to make this journey a success is an incredible feat and could not have been done without the support of every community that the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree visited across the country.

The journey of “The People’s Tree” was an expression of the innovative and dedicated Oregonian spirit, that has been ingrained within the company ever since our founder acquired his first capital equipment dealership in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

As Susie Papé, Papé Group Board Chair, fervently stated in her opening remarks for the tree cutting ceremony, this tree - “The People’s Tree” - commemorates Oregon’s independent spirit and beautifully varied landscape, celebrating our proud Oregonian roots.

“Let our tree be a gift from all Oregonians, that unites our nation in celebration, gratitude and reflection of our deep roots, that each American puts down in the name of freedom, civility, opportunity, and faith in one another.”

Our involvement in the Capitol Christmas Tree’s journey was second nature, as the tree was sourced from our own backyard, the Willamette National Forest. President of Papé Kenworth, Dave Laird, expressed the sentiment best:

“From the moment we became aware that the capitol Christmas tree was coming from Oregon we knew we wanted to be involved. With Kenworth providing the new W990 and Central Oregon Truck Company providing the drivers, it made perfect sense for us to join our partners to see the tree get to the capitol.”

 

The Capitol Christmas Tree project naturally coincided with the industries we serve. Our Papé Machinery, Construction & Forestry member J.R. Crownover delivered the equipment that made felling the tree possible. Papé Kenworth contributed the truck that was driven by our valued customer, Central Oregon Truck Company, and Papé employees at every level of our organization volunteered at and attended events from Oregon to Washington D.C. As a company we are dedicated to creating end-to-end solutions for our customers and we hope we provided the same support for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree team, U.S. Forest Service, and other partners.

While sponsoring this momentous occasion was a perfect fit for the company, it all stems from the sense of community that comes from working together toward a common goal. All of the conversations and comments from the public and members of Papé, bring up similar themes that our Marketing Coordinator, Cassidy Davis frames flawlessly, “it was so inspiring to see how the tree brought people and communities together. Across each city and at every stop, the tree was able to bring out the true spirit of the holiday season.”

It’s those aspects of inspiration, togetherness, and celebration that mean the most to us as people of the U.S., and as a company. We are so happy that we were able to provide support, encouragement, and participate in such a fantastic event, because, “it’s opportunities like this that make our jobs worthwhile, having the chance to be a part of not just Oregon, but U.S. history.” — John Woodruff, Director of Marketing.

 

 

Watch the project highlight video produced by FPW Media for The Papé Group

 

Tree Lighting Takes Place Dec. 6

Thursday, December 06, 2018

The holiday season officially begins as 2017 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was lit on the West Lawn on Thursday, Dec. 6. Watch the ceremony from the recorded live feed.