US Capitol Christmas Tree arrives from California

(WASHINGTON) — After nearly a year of planning and a more than 4,500-mile trek across the country, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree arrived in Washington Friday, just in time for the holiday season.

Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton accepted the tree from Forest Supervisor Ted McArthur of the Six Rivers National Forest in Northern California, overseen by the U.S. Forest Service.

“We are glad to have such a beautiful Christmas tree that all Californians and, frankly, all Americans can be proud of,” Blanton said.

This year’s tree is an 84-foot white fir nicknamed “Sugar Bear.”

After being harvested on Oct. 23, it made stops at various communities along the continental U.S. on its way to the nation’s capital.

The Six Rivers National Forest said the motto for this year’s donation was “Many Peoples One Tree.”

Over the next few days, the tree is expected to be decorated with LED lights and ornaments made in different California communities.

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree tradition started back in 1964 when then-Speaker of the House John W. McCormack, D-Mass., placed a live tree on the Capitol lawn.

The tree lived for a few years before succumbing to wind and root damage.

In order to keep the tradition alive, in 1970 the Architect of the Capitol asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree and since then, a different national forest is chosen each year to provide “The People’s Tree.”

A lighting ceremony is expected to happen in early December with the Architect of the Capitol and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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