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News.bytes Extra, issue 509

Capitol Christmas Tree visits the BLM in Barstow, California

The official Capitol Christmas Tree celebration began in 1964, when a large Douglas fir was purchased from a Pennsylvania nursery and planted on the grounds of the United States Capitol building. This first live tree was redecorated every year until it was damaged by a storm and died, in 1967. After that time, cut trees were chosen. In fact, in 1968 two trees were tied together to make one large tree! Beginning in 1970 it became a tradition for the tree to come from a different National Forest each year, to be chosen under the supervision of the United States Forest Service. (text continues below)

a semi truck and trailer 
The 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree arrives at the Barstow Field Office on its Mack Truck “sleigh”.

This year California donated a 65-foot white fir from the Stanislaus National Forest in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  On November 5th, the tree was cut and loaded onto a tractor-trailer truck for its journey of 4,500 miles over Interstate 40 to the nation’s capital. En route the tree made its way through California’s heartland. 

Employees of the Barstow Field Office were delighted the morning of November 15th when the truck bearing the Capitol Christmas Tree rolled into their parking lot. The rigs paused long enough for those present to sign the banners draped over the side of the truck and take a few snapshots. The very top of the tree’s perfect green boughs could be seen through a clear section of tarp hinting at the behemoth inside. Holiday cheer warmed the crowd, lingering even after the big-rigs pulled out on their way to the Capitol. 

Upon arrival in Washington D.C. the tree will be decorated with 5,000 homemade ornaments made by Californians. It will be lit on December 6 by House Speaker John Boehner and a child from California. At the end of the season, the tree will be mulched and used in the Capitol Gardens after providing light and joy to millions of Americans this holiday season.

four women pose next to a semi truck carrying a large tree
BLM Barstow Field Office employees Shelly Jackson, Lillie Cooper, Deborah Flores and Bessie Hayes pose with the top of the tree, revealed through a window in the back of the trailer. 

two people steady a third on a stepladder, signing a banner of the side of a semi trailer
Barstow Field Office employees Lillie Cooper, Art Basulto and Deborah Flores take turns signing the banner on the side of the semi. 

three people pose with the semi in the background
Alberto Camba Jr, BLM Forest Supervisory Technician (left) and Erck Downard (right), BLM Fire Operations Specialist from the BLM Apple Valley Fire Center, greeted US Forest Service Capitol Christmas Tree Coodinator Maria Benech when the National Christmas Tree passed through Barstow on its way to Washington D.C.

- Amy Oechsner, BLM Barstow Field Office, 11/28/11

 a crane lifts an evergreen tree in front of the U.S. Capitol building


a crane loads a large tree on a semi trailer, in a snow-covered scene

Photos as the Capitol Christmas Tree arrives in Washingon, D.C. -
Washington Post, Nov. 28, 2011


Like a Christmas tree at home, its base was kept in water that was replaced nightly. The caravan stopped "at a number of small towns and big cities to show off the tree at parades, swap meets and skating rinks" and collect ornaments for the tree and nonperishable food items to be donated in Gallup, N.M.
- San Jose Mercury News, 11/9/11

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 509 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: mailto:Join-Newsbytes@List.ca.blm.gov OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.

Last updated: 12-01-2011