Capitol Christmas Tree

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Capitol Christmas Tree, 2007

The Capitol Christmas Tree (formerly the Capitol Holiday Tree) is the decorated tree that is erected annually on the West Front Lawn of the United States Capitol, in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the Christmas holiday season. The selection, installation, and decoration of the tree are all overseen by the Superintendent of the Capitol Grounds of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC).

Records of the AOC indicate that a Christmas Tree was purchased in 1919; however, it was not until 1964, one year after the suggestion of John W. McCormack, the 53rd Speaker of the House, that a procedure was established for the installation of a yearly tree.

The 1963 tree was a live Douglas-fir, purchased from a Pennsylvania nursery. It was re-decorated each year through 1967 when it was severely damaged in a wind storm and subsequently died as a result of root damage. After the 1963 tree died, white pines from Maryland were cut down and put on display for the 1968 and 1969 seasons. Beginning in 1970, trees have been provided by the U.S. Forest Service from various National Forests.

The Capitol Christmas Tree is traditionally lit during a ceremony at the beginning of December, and remains lit each night though New Year's Day.[1]

Name controversy[edit]

In the late 1990s, the Capitol Christmas Tree was renamed to the Capitol Holiday Tree. There was never a clear explanation as to why the name change occurred, but the name change raised controversy. On November 29, 2005, the day after the 2005 tree arrived from New Mexico, the tree was renamed the Capitol Christmas Tree at the request of Dennis Hastert, the 59th Speaker of the House.[2]

Trees[edit]

Year Species[1] Height[1] Location grown[1] State Notes
2013 Engelmann Spruce 88 feet (27 m) Forest in Northeast Washington state Washington Second-tallest tree ever used at the Capitol; theme is "Sharing Washington's Good Nature"; to be lit 5 PM Tues., Dec. 3; decorated with 5,000 handmade children's ornaments; passed through TX, AR, TN, VA, PA, & MD.
2012 Engelmann Spruce 73 feet (22 m) White River National Forest Colorado The 2012 theme 'Celebrating Our Great Outdoors' will be highlighted in the decoration of the tree. It is expected to be lit by Speaker John Boehner during a ceremony in early December.
2011 Sierra White Fir 63 feet (19 m) Stanislaus National Forest California Lit by John Boehner on December 6. Decorated with approximately 3,000 ornaments, showcasing the tree's theme "California Shines," made by people from across California. The entire tree was decorated using strands of LEDs.[3]
2010 Engelmann Spruce 67 feet (20 m) Bridger-Teton National Forest Wyoming Lit by Nancy Pelosi on December 7. Decorated with approximately 5,000 ornaments, showcasing the tree's theme "Wyoming: Forever West," made by people from across Wyoming. The entire tree was decorated using strands of LEDs.[4]
2009 Blue Spruce 85 feet (26 m) Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests Arizona Joined by Kaitlyn Ferencik, from Canyon Ridge Elementary School in Surprise, Arizona, Nancy Pelosi lit the tree in a ceremony on December 8. The tree was felled in early November, and delivered to Washington on November 30. The tree was decorated with 10,000 LEDs, and 5,000 ornaments crafted and donated by the people of Arizona.[5]

A significant portion of the ornaments were created by Arizona school children who were provided with specifications for their ornaments, including the instructions that “[o]rnaments cannot reflect a religious or political theme… Instead share your interpretation of our theme ‘Arizona’s Gift, from the Grand Canyon State.’” The ADF sent a letter to various officials associated with the 2009 tree, on the behalf of Candace Duncan, who's child wished to submit ornaments including the following phrases: "Happy Birthday, Jesus," and "Merry Christmas." The ADF made the argument that the child's First Amendment rights were violated by the restrictions.[6] The instructions for the event were modified by October 1, and no longer included the religious restrictions. A spokesperson for the AOC was quoted as saying the previous instruction contained “old information,” and that “is no longer the position of the agency.”[7]

2008 Subalpine Fir 70 feet (21 m) Bitterroot National Forest Montana The tree was decorated with more than 5,000 ornaments displaying the theme "Sharing Montana's Treasures" by shocasing the state's heritage, historical events, and natural resources. The ornaments were crafted and donated by the people of Montana. As a part of the lighting ceremony, Jack Gladstone performed "Heart of Montana," the official song of the 2008 Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Strands of LEDs were used to light the entire tree.[8]
2007 Balsam Fir 55 feet (17 m) Green Mountain National Forest Vermont A 55-foot fir, the tree was decorated exclusively with LEDs and some 4,500 ornaments crafted and donated by the people of Vermont reflecting the theme Bringing an Old Fashioned Holiday to the Nation.”[9]
2006 Pacific Silver Fir 65 feet (20 m) Olympic National Forest Washington The tree was lit by Dennis Hastert, assisted by eight-year-old Micah Joe from Bremerton, at 5 pm on December 6. Felled in early November, the tree arrived at the West Front Lawn of the Capitol on November 27. 3,000 ornaments were provided by Washington school children depicting the state's history, heritage, and landscapes and strands of 10,000 LEDs. The lighting ceremony also features carols sung by the National Presbyterian School Chorus and music performed by the United States Navy Band.[10]
2005 Engelmann Spruce 65 feet (20 m) Santa Fe National Forest New Mexico The tree was lit by Dennis Hastert, assisted by eight-year-old Steven Castillo from Santa Fe, at 5 pm on December 8 in a ceremony including music performed by the United States Marine Band. Felled in early November, the tree arrived by trailer at the West Front Lawn of the Capitol on November 28. Decorated with some 3,000 ornaments crafted and donated by the people of New Mexico, the tree was lit with 10,000 lights (including strands of LEDs for the first time), and remained lit from dusk until 11 pm each night through January 1, 2006.[11] First tree since 1998 with the "Christmas Tree" title.[2]
2004 Red Spruce 65 feet (20 m) George Washington and Jefferson National Forests Virginia The tree was lit by Dennis Hastert, assisted by seven-year-old Blayne Braden of Monterey, VA, at 5 pm on December 9 during a ceremony held on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol. Virginia Senators John Warner and George Allen both offered holiday greetings to the crowd, the United States Air Force Band, and the Mountain Mission School Concert Choir also performed during the ceremony. The tree was decorated with some 5,000 ornaments crafted and donated by the people of Virginia along with 10,000 lights.[12]
2003 Engelmann Spruce 70 feet (21 m) Boise National Forest Idaho The tree was lit by Dennis Hastert on December 11 in a ceremony on the West Front Lawn including performances by the United States Army Band, the Snake River High School Chamber Choir from Blackfoot, Idaho, and the Congressional Chorus. Decorations for the tree included some 6,000 ornaments crafted and donated by the people of Idaho along with 10,000 lights. The tree remained lit from dusk to 11 pm each night through January 1, 2004.[13]
2002 Douglas Fir 70 feet (21 m) Umpqua National Forest Oregon The tree was lit by Dennis Hastert on December 12 in a ceremony including performances by the United States Navy Band, the Umpqua Singers from Umpqua Community College, and the Congressional Chorus. Decorated with 6,000 ornaments crafted and donated by the people of Oregon, the three was lit with 10,000 lights. Delivery of the tree from Umpqua National Forest took 22 days, with the tree arriving at the Capitol on December 2. During the ceremony, Hastert was presented with a tree ornament, in the likeness of the Capitol Dome and made from marble from the original east front steps of the House wing, by Ronald A. Sarasin, president of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society.[14]
2001 White Spruce 72 feet (22 m) Ottawa National Forest Michigan Known as "The Tree of Hope," the tree was lit by Dennis Hastert at 5 pm on December 11 in a ceremony on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol. The tree was hand picked by Architect of the Capitol landscape architect Matthew Evans on June 25 and was approximately 70 years old and weighted 4,000 pounds (1.8 t). Harvested in mid November, the tree arrived at the Capitol at 10 am on December 2 and was subsequently decorated with some 6,000 ornaments crafted and donated by the people of Michigan along with 10,000 blue, amber, and clear lights. The tree remained lit from dusk to midnight each night through January 2, 2002.[15]
2000 Colorado Blue Spruce 65 feet (20 m) Pike National Forest Colorado Selected by Architect of the Capitol landscape architect Matthew Evans in the summer of 2000, the tree was transported to the Capitol on a 64 foot flatbed truck driven by Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell and decorated to look like a Conestoga wagon; the tree arrived at the Capitol around 10 am on December 4. The tree was lit by Dennis Hastert at 5:30 pm on December 12 in a ceremony including performances by the Summit Choral Society, a section of the United States Air Force Band, and the Congressional Chorus. Some 6,400 ornaments made by school children from all of Colorado's 64 districts adorned the tree along with 10,000 blue, white, and amber lights. The tree remained lit from 5 pm to midnight each night through January 2, 2001.[16]
1999 White Spruce 60 feet (18 m) Nicolet National Forest Wisconsin After being selected during the summer of 1999 from twenty candidates by Architect of the Capitol landscape architect Matthew Evans, the tree was shipped by train to the Capitol and arrived on November 29. Decorated with some 4,000 ornaments crafted and donated by people from Wisconsin, and 10,000 blue, clear, and amber lights, the tree was lit by Dennis Hastert at 5 pm on December 9. The lighting ceremony included performances by the Congressional Chorus, the United States Army Band, and the Wisconsin Youth Leadership Academy YMCA Boy's Choir.[17] First tree named "Holiday Tree" instead of "Christmas Tree"[citation needed]
1998 Fraser Fir 50 feet (15 m) Pisgah National Forest North Carolina Lit by Newt Gingrich at 5:30 pm on December 8 in a ceremony including performances by the Congressional Chorus, and the New Day Singers from Asheville, North Carolina. The tree was decorated with some 4,000 ornaments made by North Carolina school children along with 10,000 blue, clear, and amber lights. The tree remained lit from 5 pm to midnight each night through January 2, 1999.[18]
1997 Black Hills Spruce 63 feet (19 m) Black Hills National Forest South Dakota
1996 Engelmann Spruce 75 feet (23 m) Manti La Sal National Forest Utah
1995 Douglas Fir 60 feet (18 m) Plumas National Forest California
1994 Balsam Fir 58 feet (18 m) Green Mountain National Forest Vermont
1993 White Fir 65 feet (20 m) San Bernardino National Forest California
1992 White Spruce 62 feet (19 m) Chippewa National Forest Minnesota
1991 Blue Spruce 60 feet (18 m) Carson National Forest New Mexico
1990 Engelmann Spruce 65 feet (20 m) Routt National Forest Colorado
1989 Engelmann Spruce 89 feet (27 m) Kootenai National Forest Montana
1988 Balsam Fir 50 feet (15 m) Manistee National Forest Michigan
1987 Norway Spruce 60 feet (18 m) Wayne National Forest Ohio
1986 Shasta Red Fir 54 feet (16 m) Klamath National Forest California
1985 White Spruce 56 feet (17 m) Ottawa National Forest Michigan
1984 White Spruce 58 feet (18 m) Superior National Forest Minnesota
1983 White Spruce 52 feet (16 m) Chequamegon National Forest Wisconsin
1982 Balsam Fir 50 feet (15 m) Riley Bostwich Wildlife Management Area Vermont
1981 White Spruce 50 feet (15 m) Hiawatha National Forest Michigan
1980 White Spruce 48 feet (15 m) Green Mountain National Forest Vermont
1979 White Spruce 52 feet (16 m) Nicolet National Forest Wisconsin
1978 Norway Spruce 60 feet (18 m) Savage River State Forest Maryland
1977 White Spruce 52 feet (16 m) Nemadji State Forest Minnesota
1976 Red Spruce 41 feet (12 m) Monongahela National Forest West Virginia
1975 Balsam Fir 41 feet (12 m) Ottawa National Forest Michigan
1974 Fraser Fir 41 feet (12 m) Pisgah National Forest North Carolina
1973 White Spruce 51 feet (16 m) Allegheny National Forest Pennsylvania
1972 Balsam Fir 50 feet (15 m) Tennessee National Forest Pennsylvania
1971 Black Spruce 45 feet (14 m) White Mountain National Forest New Hampshire
1970 Norway Spruce 40 feet (12 m) Monongahela National Forest West Virginia
1969 White Pine 40 feet (12 m) Westminster, Maryland Maryland
1968 White Pine 30 feet (9.1 m) Finksburg, Maryland Maryland Made from two different trees[1]
1967 Douglas Fir 24 feet (7.3 m) Birdsboro, Pennsylvania Pennsylvania In 1963, John W. McCormack suggested that a Christmas Tree should be placed on the grounds. A live tree was purchased for $700 from Buddies Nurseries and planted on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol. This tree was decorated each year through 1967 until it was damaged by a wind storm in the Spring of 1967.[1]
1966
1965
1964
1963

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Capitol Grounds Christmas Trees". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved December 16, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Capitol Holiday Tree Is a Christmas Tree Again, Fox News, September 29, 2005, retrieved January 7, 2011 
  3. ^ "2011 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  4. ^ "2010 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  5. ^ "2009 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  6. ^ Scruggs, Jonathan (September 28, 2009), Discrimination against Religious Viewpoints in 2009 Capitol Christmas Tree Ornament event, Alliance Defense Fund, retrieved January 7, 2011 
  7. ^ Segelstein, Marcia (October 2, 2009), Capitol Christmas tree controversy, World (magazine), retrieved January 6, 2011 
  8. ^ "2008 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  9. ^ "2007 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  10. ^ "2006 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  11. ^ "2005 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  12. ^ "2004 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  13. ^ "2003 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  14. ^ "2002 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  15. ^ "2001 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  16. ^ "2000 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  17. ^ "1999 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  18. ^ "1998 Capitol Christmas Tree". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved January 6, 2011.