- NYT’s David Brooks: Obama has ‘manhood problem’ in Middle East
- Ted Cruz thanks Obama for denying visas to terrorists
- Survivors recall chaos, fear in Everest avalanche
- General Mills apologizes for ‘right to sue’ confusion, reverses policy
- Dealer wanted in U.S. for art fraud nabbed in Spain
- Easter morning delivery for space station
- Boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76
- Probe could complicate Rick Perry’s prospects
- Ukraine, Russia trade blame for eastern shootout
- Obamas head to church on Easter morning
Donations paid for Capitol Christmas Tree’s cross-country trip
The Capitol Christmas Tree arrived in Washington on Monday after a cross-country trek from Washington state and, in keeping with the austerity that's constraining federal spending, the trek didn't cost taxpayers a penny.
All costs for the 88-foot Englemann spruce and its 5,000-mile journey from Colville National Forest were paid for with about $400,000 in cash and in-kind donations raised by Choose Outdoors, a nonprofit group that collected donations from the private sector.
At the tree's stops across the country, many people asked what the tree was costing them or which branch of the government was covering the costs, said Jeff Olson, president of the organization that promotes outdoor recreation and active lifestyles.
"It's great when you hear that and you're able to respond that this is paid for by the private sector," he said.
The tradition of a Christmas tree at the Capitol dates back to 1964, when a 24-foot Douglas fir tree was planted on the West Lawn of the Capitol. That tree was damaged by a storm in 1968 and had to be removed. The U.S. Forest Service has selected a national forest to provide the tree every year, trying to rotate around the country, since 1970. This year's is the second Capitol Christmas tree from Washington.
Colville National Forest asked employees to comb through the 1.1 million acres of land in search of the perfect Christmas tree for the Capitol. About 70 trees that fit the criteria — having a classic Christmas tree shape and being between 65 and 90 feet tall — were nominated by employees, said Robert Sanchez, district ranger at the forest in northeastern Washington.
The search prompted some friendly competition between employees, he said.
"When we talked to our employees about what it would mean to find the Capitol Christmas Tree, there were some discussions amongst employees that they're really striving to be that person," Mr. Sanchez said.
Mr. Sanchez was part of the team that narrowed the choices down to 10 finalists. Then, Ted Bechtol, superintendent of the U.S. Capitol grounds, made the final pick.
"I think it did stand out from the other trees by just being a more formal shape that I'm looking for," Mr. Bechtol said. "Uniformity is really important, that nice conical shape and it really does need to look good 360 degrees."
Mr. Bechtol will oversee efforts over the next week to get the tree ready for the official lighting ceremony Dec. 3. Workers will begin stringing lights Tuesday and hanging thousands of ornaments made by Washington state residents Wednesday, he said.
"Having done this for eight years, I always love seeing the ornaments. School kids make them and some of them are just really crafty," he said.
This year's theme is "Sharing Washington's Good Nature," according to the tree's official website. Ornaments are supposed to depict "the natural resources, scenic beauty and amazing people in the state."
House Speaker John A. Boehner will light the tree at 5 p.m. Dec. 3. Gates will open at 4 p.m. and tickets are not required for the lighting, which also can be viewed online at speaker.gov/live.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jacqueline Klimas covers Capitol Hill for The Washington Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.
- Superheroes fail to break record at Awesome Con
- Superheroes to take over Capitol Hill
- Rep. Moran defends against spoof blog's PTSD 'story'
- American Legion shoots down idea to tie immigration to military service
- Child's play? E-cigarettes marketed to youngsters, report finds
Latest Blog Entries
- Miss. GOP chair: Huckabee distracting from GOP's reasonable pro-life stance
- Commerce Secretary 'optimistic' about U.S.'s economic standing worldwide
- Less than half of registered voters would re-elect their congressman, poll finds
- Half of registered voters in Va. would re-elect Sen. Mark Warner
- 2013 was second most polarizing year of Obama's presidency
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Vulnerable Democrats must 'run their own race'
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- EDITORIAL: Republicans finally fight back in phony 'war on women'
- WILLIAMS: Bill Maher, comedian or bigot?
- NYT's David Brooks: Obama has 'manhood problem' in Middle East
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.