Capitol Christmas Tree
A 67-foot-high Engelmann spruce tree from Wyoming is getting its fifteen minutes of fame this holiday season. The majestic tree, which was found in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, has been chosen as the official Christmas tree for the U.S. Capitol building. Needless to say, the state of Wyoming is thrilled about the honor - it is the first time, since the program started in 1970, that a Wyoming tree has been selected. This special honor is proof positive of the fact that Wyoming is bursting at its seams with some of the very best pine trees in the world - and that it’s a veritable winter wonderland.
How the Tree was Found
The annual search for the perfect Christmas tree is handled by the U.S. Capitol grounds superintendent. This year, that position belongs to Ted Bechtol, who was in charge of figuring out which tree to select. The tree is always provided by the U.S. Forest Service, but it’s up to the U.S. Capitol staff to find the ideal specimen. Different locations are zeroed in on each year; this year, it was Wyoming’s turn. Ten trees within the 3.4-million-acre Bridger-Teton National Forest were contenders - and Bechtol and his crew had only two days to narrow things down.
What made the selected tree so perfect? Several things. First of all, the “rules” dictate that the Capitol tree must be at least 55 feet high; at that height, it is easy to see from quite a long ways away. At the same time, the tree cannot be taller than 65 feet; the crew doesn’t have the equipment to properly adorn a tree that’s taller than that. The Wyoming Capitol Christmas tree, of course, is 67 feet high - however, those two extra feet don’t appear to be a concern for anyone.
Getting the Tree to DC
Now that the tree has been selected, it will remain in the ground until just before the Capitol is ready for it. Traditionally, the Capitol tree is placed on the west lawn of the Capitol building. When it’s ready to make its journey, it will be loaded onto an 81-foot flatbed truck; this year, a Georgia trucker had been selected to transport the tree from Wyoming to the United States capital. Along the way, the tree is sure to cause quite a stir - after all, it is essentially the official Christmas tree of the entire country!
The Perfect Tree
In addition to being a suitable height, the Wyoming tree has the right shape and other attributes. The people who are in charge of finding the tree each year always look for one that is conical in shape - just like you would see in a painting or drawing. In other words, it should look “triangular” from every angle. Additionally, the tree’s trunk has to be very straight and true; otherwise, it will look shoddy and unstable. The tree will be views by millions of people - it’s important that it looks phenomenal from every single angle.
Thousands of Decorations
As can be expected for a tree of this size, the Capitol Christmas tree will be adorned with thousands of ornaments. Since Wyoming has the honor of providing the tree this year, a special program is rounding up handmade ornaments by students in schools around the state. Needless to say, the children who are working on these ornaments are extremely excited about the privilege. In the end, 5,000 to 6,000 ornaments will adorn the Capitol Christmas tree. It is sure to make a truly dazzling sight when it’s all set up and lit up.
This Christmas is going to be a special one for the citizens of Wyoming. Even those who rarely pay much attention to the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree are sure to give it plenty this year. The children who help provide the ornaments will undoubtedly watch local news programs, in the hopes of seeing their very own creations hanging on the majestic Engelmann spruce tree. In a sea of thousands of other ornaments, finding a single one will be no easy feat; still, the pride that the people of Wyoming are sure to feel for their festive contribution is sure to make them all feel great.