Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 18, 2014

Christmas in August? Boehner Planning for Capitol Tree

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The 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree arrived in November from Washington state. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call FIle Photo)

A 65-foot spruce or balsam fir growing somewhere along Minnesota’s Paul Bunyan Trail will stand on the West Front Lawn this winter.

The North Star State’s Chippewa National Forest will provide the Capitol Christmas Tree this year, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Monday.

This year marks the second time the forest has provided the prominent evergreen. In 1992, Chippewa National Forest and Leech Lake Reservation sent a 60-foot white spruce to Washington, D.C., along with thousands of ornaments made by local school children.

“The People’s Tree” tradition started in 1964 by then-Speaker John McCormack, D-Mass. His tree lived for three years on the Capitol lawn before succumbing to wind and root damage. In 1970, the Architect of the Capitol tasked the Forest Service with providing a Christmas tree. Since then, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide the tree.

Final selection of the 2014 tree is expected to occur this month, and the winner will be chopped on Oct. 29.

Minnesota is already mapping out a route for the festive tour that concludes on the West Front. The first stop will be Bemidji State University, where the tree will be wrapped and prepared for its journey to the District. From there, the tree will stop at schools, hospitals, state capitols, city halls, military bases and more.

Forest staff are using the dog days of summer to recruit people to craft the more than 10,000 handmade ornaments that will decorate the tree. So far, they’ve been promised about 8,000. They’ve also launched ornament contests at county fairs.

Boehner will host a tree lighting ceremony in early December, alongside one young Minnesotan who will win a free trip to D.C.

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