Tree Camera on the Capitol
grounds during the holidays
Tracking the "Peoples
The Route of Colorados 65-Foot Blue Spruce From the Shadow
of Pikes Peak to D.C.
By Hans Petersen
were able to track the progress of the "Peoples
Tree on the Internet as the annual holiday convoy traveled 2000
miles from Colorado to the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
Along the way,
there were 19 community celebrations throughout Colorado and along
the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas and Missouri. The events culminate
in a lighting ceremony in front of the U.S. Capitol at 5 p.m. on
The tree was
cut and shrink-wrapped on November 20. Thousands of kids enjoyed
the fun assignment of going online and finding out where it was
day by day.
of the U.S. Forest Service is the national coordinator of the Capitol
Holiday Tree. "This project makes me really enjoy the holiday
season. It also puts me in the holiday spirit - whether I am ready
Tree Is Selected
A tree's selection begins about five years in advance. A call goes
all of the Forest Service's regions, stations and forests requesting
nominations to bring the holiday tree to the nation's Capitol. There
are letters of support from mayors, governors, and elected officials.
After nominations are received, they go to the head of the agency,
Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck, and he selects a reviewing panel
to make the recommendation from the pool of applicants. Some of
the deciding factors include historical significance, community
and state support and the geographic location in relation to last
year's tree. Finally, a selection is made.
This year its
Colorado. The 75 year old Spruce comes from the shadow of 14,110
foot Pikes Peak in Pike National Forest about 15 miles west
of Colorado Springs. Companion trees from each of Colorado's 64
counties and thousands of handmade ornaments accompanied the Tree
on the 2000-mile journey.
explains, "The chosen state is responsible for 5,000 ornaments
for the tree and middle school students normally make most of them.
Sometimes the Governor's wife will chair this event and involve
garden clubs and homemakers. Sometimes, the forests will sponsor
a poster, essay or ornament contest with middle school students
and the winner wins a trip to Washington, DC, to join in the lighting
"Every year the holiday tree is different because each state
has its own
unique natural resources and own creativity. Every state with its
cultures and traditions make each year so exciting.
"I always encourage state organizers to have children be a
part of the celebration. This time of year is for them and if they
can raise funds to come to participate in DC, it really makes the
whole event even more memorable. From tours, to singing at the Forest
Service afternoon reception, to even singing at the
lighting ceremony, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity if children
This year children
from all 50 states participated in the Holiday Tree program by following
the route of the tree
on their home computers where they also learned about the tree and
Tree" was involved in many holiday parades all across the country
along its route. These plans are made many months in advance and
a lot of towns will change events just to have the holiday tree
with its escorts participate in the parade. The tree truck carries
sign boards that the citizens across the state can sign to make
them a part of this special event. The tree usually stops and visits
elementary schools for students to come outside and sign the boards.
big tree and a big project. Accordingly, things dont always
happen as planned. Although she diplomatically refuses to mention
the origin of the tree, Beverly has heard stories about a tree that
once arrived at the Capitol with all of its needles fallen off.
The Architect of the Capitol had to glue branches back on the tree.
She quickly adds that better techniques have been developed since
then to keep the tree from getting too dry on very long trips.
Last year -- for the first time in the history of the tree - the
tree rode in on Amtrak. (It usually arrives by truck.) The tree
was from Wisconsin and they developed a cab to support the tree
and the caravan stopped at rail stations to have its celebrations.
It arrived at Union Station with much fanfare and then was attached
to a truck for the traditional arrival at the Capitol.
This year, as usual, most national media will cover the celebration
and will be at
the Capitol for the tree's arrival. The celebration is scheduled
Dec. 13 at 5 p.m.
Holiday Tree program this year is made possible through the joint
efforts of the US Forest Service (USFS), the Colorado Rural Development
Council (CRDC), the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), the Colorado
Division of Wildlife (CDOW), the Colorado Congressional delegation
and many excellent partners.
"The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The
second best time is now." - -Anonymous
Carroll at the Forest Service. Her e-mail is Bcarroll@fs.fed.us.
is a writer/editor at the Health Care Financing Administration in
Washington D.C. Currently writing for AccessAmerica
E-Gov E-Zine, he can be reached at HPetersen@HCFA.gov.
Webpage (Including PikesPeakcam)
The U.S. Forest Service