Category Archives: Capitol Christmas Tree

SWEET HOME TO DC: 2018 CAPITOL CHRISTMAS TREE HITS THE OREGON TRAIL

A reenactor representing Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the Forest Services, poses with U.S. Airmen during a 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree whistle-stop event Nov. 10, 2018.

Sweet Home to DC: The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree journey

A Modern Day Adventure on the Historic Oregon Trail

Each year, a National Forest provides a Christmas Tree for display on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, in central Oregon. District Ranger Nikki Swanson is recording her notes from the journey for the Your Northwest Forests blog. To read the previous entries, visit: https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.


November 10th, 2018
Albany, Ore.

Thankful for family, friends & veterans

Today we left home. The packing and the year of preparation is complete and it is time to leave family and friends and to take the first steps away from all we know, to venture into the great unknown. It was also a day to be thankful for the veterans who have made this country free so that we can travel as we wish. This freedom does not exist everwhere.

Our stop at the Cabellas store in Springfield, Ore. was like a giant farewell party. My family and friends who had not made it to the Sweet Home event came to wish me well.

I realized at this moment how much I am going miss all of my family and friends over the next month. It was just a small taste of what the Oregon Trail pioneers felt when they left their friends and extended family members behind – the pioneers were going to be gone for a much longer period of time than me. Many pioneers said “goodbye” knowing they might never see their families and friends again.

Cabellas was so festive!  There was music, hot chocolate, Smokey Bear and there were even LIVE reindeer! There was such a spirit of joy in the air as people picked their favorite spot to sign the banners on the side of the truck.

My friend’s son summed up the mood of the event perfectly: “Of all 50 states, that Oregon was chosen to deliver the Capitol Christmas tree ALL the way to D.C.? That is amazing.” I agree.

The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree also visited the Albany Veteran’s Day Parade, the largest Veteran’s Day Parade this side of the Mississippi. It was such an honor to be at this event.  There are so many veterans in my life and I am thankful every day for their service to our great country.  Not every country has the freedoms that the United States of America enjoys. When I was 17, I traveled to Canton, China as part of an international sports exchange to run a cross country race.

The funny thing is, I don’t remember the race at all. What I remember is seeing the poverty, and being surprised at the lack of freedom that we had. We could only visit the places the government gave us permission to visit. We could not go to just any jade factory, we had to go to the one they directed us to.

In America, visitors can move freely. I had always heard from my Dad that I should be thankful to be an American, I did not realize just how true that was until I visited another country. I came back proud to be an American, and thankful for all of our veterans and the price they paid for our freedom.

The veterans, cadets and parade-watchers had a great time signing the tree banner, learning more about the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, and having their photos taken with Smokey Bear.  It was our second day officially “on the trail” with the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree, and it was a very good one.

Nikki Swanson
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest

SWEET HOME TO DC: City sends off 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree with celebration, parade

A logging truck sports lights and holiday themes decorations for the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree send-off parade

Sweet Home to DC: The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree journey

A Modern Day Adventure on the Historic Oregon Trail

Each year, a National Forest provides a Christmas Tree for display on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, in central Oregon. District Ranger Nikki Swanson is recording her notes from the journey for the Your Northwest Forests blog. To read the previous entries, visit: https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.


November 9th, 2018
Sweet Home, Ore.

The adventure begins

The city of Sweet Home ROCKS! Today was the kickoff celebration for the tree tour and Sweet Home hosted the most AMAZING send off every in the history of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

I have only been to two other kick off celebrations (Idaho and Montana) and I am a little biased, but I can’t imagine anyone topping what Sweet Home did! There was an incredible parade, a wonderful list of speakers, a beautiful full-color, magazine-style program, and a concert by the country music group Cloverdayle.

Representing the USDA Forest Service during the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree send-off event in Sweet Home, Ore.

Representing the USDA Forest Service during the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree send-off event in Sweet Home, Ore. Nov. 9, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

The parade was incredible. Several thousand people came out to watch the lighted parade. The entire city of Sweet Home was decorated with Christmas lights and wreaths and painted windows. People came from near and far to see this historic event.

It’s only the second U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to come from Oregon, and many of us may not get to see another.

It was fun to meet some of the people instrumental to the success of this project. Many a grade-schooler ran up and hugged me… this was actually my favorite part of the evening, that so many children were excited and proud that this tree came from their city, their state. My new title, as told to me by several of these wonderful young citizens, is “The Captain of the Tree”.

District Ranger Nikki Swanson, Sweet Home Ranger District, Willamette National Forest on stage during the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree send-off in Sweet Home, Ore. Nov. 9, 2018

The stage at the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree send-off celebration in Sweet Home, Oregon Nov. 9, 2018 was decorated with tree cut-outs made from different types of commercial wood products. USDA Forest Service photo

Another highlight was getting to meet a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her organization hosted several ornament-making events, and made several of the incredible quilted tree skirts depicting the beauty of Oregon with so many colorful textures of fabric. I have never before seen such beautiful tree skirts.

The parade was so bright and awe-inspiring and there was so much joy in the air as lighted log trucks, and horses, and motorcycles, and even bagpipes made their way down Main Street.

Attendees at the Sweet Home, Ore. Capitol Christmas Tree send-off event sign a 70-foot banner stretching the length of the truck carrying this year's tree

Attendees at the Sweet Home, Ore. Capitol Christmas Tree send-off event sign a 70-foot banner stretching the length of the truck carrying this year’s tree from Willamette National Forest to the U.S. Capitol for the 2018 holiday season Nov. 9, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

Once the tree stopped at the end of the parade, a wave of people crowded around the truck, all eager to be among the first to sign the banner on the sides of the truck.

The banner proudly displays the names of more than sixty sponsors who made this project possible.

At each stop, we’re encouraging ALL of the people who see the truck in person to add their names to the banner wishing good will to the people of America, like a giant rolling Christmas card.

Another exciting part of the evening was when Senator Ron Wyden met with the Sweet Home Library to present them with books from the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

The Sweet Home Library is doing a fun project linking all of the cities across the country that the tree is traveling through.

Each city is invited to join a book club of sorts.

The children's book "You Wouldn't Want to Be an American Pioneer" is displayed with a model horse-drawn covered wagon and map of the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree tour route

Sweet Home, Oregon library sent a “book club” box to libraries in 20 cities the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree will visit as part of its whistle-stop tour en route to Washington D.C. The tree’s route is a reverse of the Oregon Trail, designated a National Historic Trail under the National Trails Act, which is 50 years old this year. USDA Forest Service photo.

Rose Peda the Sweet Home Library Director sent ‘gift boxes’ to 20+ Whistle Stop public library’s along the tree tour route, with the following note: “The Sweet Home Public Library invites you to celebrate the travels of the Capitol Christmas tree along the Oregon Trail. Join us in sharing the books “Apples to Oregon: Being the (Slightly) True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries (and Children) Across the Plains” by Deborah Hopkinson and “Wagons Ho” by George Hallowell, and in eating the delicious apples from Oregon provided by Grandpa’s Farm. Children can track the travels of the tree with the Oregon Trail map provided by the National Forest Service.”

What a fun way to connect children across the entire country!

After the banner signing, the festivities moved into the gymnasium, which was decorated so beautifully for Christmas. There were several speakers, including the Mayor of Sweet Home and Senator Ron Wyden, who spoke about how proud they were to be sending this gift from Oregon to the people of the United States of America.

Brigitte Harrington recites her contest-winning poem about Oregon's holiday seasons at the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree send-off event i

Brigitte Harrington recites her contest-winning poem about Oregon’s holiday seasons at the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree send-off event in Sweet Home, Ore. Nov. 9, 2018.. The Oregon 4th grader’s poem, based on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” was selected from 1,200 entries by Governor Kate Brown. Harrington will travel to Washington D.C. to light the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree with the Speaker of the House in early December. USDA Forest Service photo.

My favorite speaker was Brigitte Harrington! Brigette is the talented 4th grader whose poem was selected out of 1,200 entries by Governor Kate Brown to light the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington D.C.

Brigette read her poem, which is a rendition of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” that focuses on the beauty of the changing seasons in Oregon. It was truly a delight to hear her recite it. (You can download a PDF copy at this link, or scroll down to read the full text immediately following this journal entry).

The New Era newspaper created a beautiful, full-color magazine style program that was handed out during the evening events. The program contains the history of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree as well as information about OUR Oregon tree.

The party ended with wonderful music from the country music band Cloverdayle bringing Christmas cheer all the way from Nashville, Tennessee.

So many wonderful memories were made tonight. This will go down in my book as one of the most incredible events in my life. Watching the culmination of a year of planning become an event filled with joy and happiness and pride for this Community and our entire state. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. With a send-off like this, the future looks bright.

Nikki Swanson
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest

A young fan dances to the music of the country music group Cloverdayle

A young fan dances to the music of the country music group Cloverdayle during the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree send-off celebration in Sweet Home, Ore. Nov. 9, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

 


Here’s the winning entry in the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree essay contest. Brigette Heather Harrington based her essay on the poem “‘Twas the Night  Before Christmas.” Her entry was selected by Gov. Kate Brown from around 1,200 entries submitted by Oregon 4th graders; Harrington won a trip to Washington D.C. to light the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree, harvested from the Willamette National Forest.

‘Twas the month before Christmas, and all through my mind,
Swirled thoughts of my Oregon, all intertwined;
The four seasons how extraordinary, each one of a kind,
Left memories galore for my mind to rewind.
The winter how beautiful, the snow began to fall,
I quickly grabbed my mittens to make a chilly snowball.
The snowman we created, sat proudly in my yard,
He stayed there ‘till he melted, a snowy frosty guard.
The raindrops how they pattered, the wind gusts how they blew,
In Oregon this is common, it makes us special through and through;
So don’t be disappointed, for rain can bring such joy,
The puddles are for jumpin,’ they’re better than a toy!
In thinking of the springtime, birds began to chime,
The tulips and the daffodils, made for a colorful time.
It was time to plant my garden, the seeds went in the ground,
I watched each day as plants popped up, and roots became earthbound.
The roses oh so pretty, a painting of delight,
The picture of a rainbow, magical and bright.
A visit to the Oregon coast, is sure to bring a smile,
Watching waves and seagulls fly up high, my sandcastle took a while.
Flying kites their tails a’soarin,’ a fun sight to behold,
Especially nice upon the sand, with the ocean foamy and cold.
Hiking in the green lush forests, tall evergreens abound,
Watching wildlife, deer, and elk appear, animals all around.
Onto summer sunny days, the earth was in its glory,
Picking berries, apples, peaches and more, so sweet, like a fairytale story.
Kayaking on our rivers was great, it really was a thrill,
Paddling to and fro with dad, water rippling, peaceful and yet still.
Time for fall, it was really here, brilliant trees ablaze,
Leaves soon fell down one by one, my eyes just loved to gaze.
Finally into the pumpkin patch, oh which one should I choose,
A tall, a round, a skinny one, once carved it would amuse.
It’s time to cut our Christmas tree, we’ve got to find the right one,
Can’t wait to get it home inside, all decorated and done!
So as I close my eyes for sleep, my heart holds memories dear,
Thinking of my home, our state, my Oregon, how glad I’m here.

By Brigette Heather Harrington (4th grade, Oregon);
Winning essay,

2018 Capitol Christmas Tree contest

Sweet Home to DC: The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree journey continues

Students show off their signatures on a 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree banner

Sweet Home to DC: The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree journey

A Modern Day Adventure on the Historic Oregon Trail

Each year, a National Forest provides a Christmas Tree for display on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, in central Oregon. District Ranger Nikki Swanson is recording her notes from the journey for the Your Northwest Forests blog. To read the previous entries, visit: https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.


November 8th, 2018
Sweet Home, Ore.

Final preparations and some fun with Smokey Bear!

Tomorrow is the BIG day, the day the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree embarks on its epic journey.  All of the final preparations are underway and excitement is in the air.

The 10,000 ornaments were packaged, the banner thanking the sponsors was hung, and Smokey visited with EVERY kindergarten through 6th-grader in the Sweet Home School District.

Packaging 10,000 ornaments handmade by the people of Oregon was an adventure in itself. The ornaments are for the big tree as well as the eighty smaller trees that will decorate the offices of the Capitol Building.

The ornaments had to be organized, boxed, and labeled so that it would be easy to tell which were for the big tree and which were for the smaller trees. Next, all of the boxes were stacked in piles eight feet tall and four feet wide!

In a few weeks, a truck will come to pick up the boxes and transport the ornaments and the companion trees to D.C. Once there, we will hand deliver these special gifts from Oregon.

Another exciting thing that occurred today is the hanging of the GIANT banner on the side of the truck transporting the Capitol Christmas Tree.  The banner is eight feet tall and 70 feet long.

Smokey high-fives an Oregon grade-schooler during a school visit marikng the start of the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree tour.

Local students got a visit from Smokey Bear and the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree team Nov. 8, 2018. Children signed banners to accompany the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree from the Willamette National Forest, Sweet Home Ranger District, to Washington D.C., and the schools received seedling trees to plant on the school grounds. USDA Forest Service photo.

If you think about how hard it is to hang a picture on your wall at home and to get it perfect and straight, you will appreciate how difficult of a job this is to do.  Thanks to some tall ladders and some really amazing people, the banner thanking all of the sponsors and partners looks perfect and is ready for people to sign at the unveiling in Sweet Home on November 9th.

My hope is that so many people want to sign this giant postcard travelling 3,000 miles across the country, that there will be an ocean of names and well-wishes so dense that the color of the banner underneath will be hard to see.

My favorite part about today was getting to visit with all of the elementary children in the Sweet Home School District. I visited all five schools and had the opportunity to meet over 1,300 children. We talked about the tree and the journey thus far and the adventure yet to come.

The children also got to meet Smokey Bear and learn about how they can help take care of their forest by preventing wildfires and picking up any litter that they see.

When I showed them a photo of the tree that was chosen, there were collective “oooohs, and aaahs,” and they agreed that the Architect of the Capitol’s Office picked the VERY BEST one.

There was much clapping and exclamations of excitement when I showed them the photo of the Oregon 4th grader whose lovely poem won her the honor of actually lighting the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington D.C…. Brigitte Harrington.

Brigitte will be reading her winning poem at the Sweet Home celebration. I can’t wait to hear her recite it for all of us. I think the Sweet Home elementary students are as excited about that as I am!

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We concluded our visit by handing out an “Every Kid in the Park Pass” to every 4th grader. In addition to getting into all Federal Parks free, they get a free permit to harvest their own Christmas Tree from the National Forest. We left each school with two Douglas fir seedlings to plant on their school grounds.  When you cut a tree, plant a tree (or two).

Nikki Swanson
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest

Sweet Home to DC: The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree begins its journey

A tractor trailer hauls a large evergreen tree on a narrow forest highway

Sweet Home to DC: The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree journey

A Modern Day Adventure on the Historic Oregon Trail

Each year, a National Forest provides the tree that lights up the National Mall from the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest in central Oregon to the nation’s capital, a month-long journey.

The forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District hosted this year’s search for “The People’s Tree,” District Ranger Nikki Swanson is accompanying the tree on it’s journey across the U.S.

Because 2018 is also the 50th year of the National Trails Act, the route will follow a reverse version of the Oregon Trail, a federally-recognized National Historic Trail. She’ll be sharing her notes from the trail on the Your Northwest Forests blog.

You can find all of our Capitol Christmas Tree coverage at: https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.


November 7nd , 2018
Sweet Home, Ore.

Preparing for the Big Journey

All big journeys begin with much preparation. Pioneer’s packed covered wagons to journey west via wagon train along the Oregon Trail to make a new life in Oregon. The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is preparing for its journey from Sweet Home, Oregon to our Nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C. following the same route that many of our ancestors took, only in reverse.  There are so many things that had to be done before the big day on the Willamette National Forest.  The tree needed to be found, cut, transported into the City of Sweet Home, and wrapped before it could even begin its journey.  It has taken a year of planning to get to this point, but compared to the planning and preparation of the pioneers 175 years ago, our project is easy.

A crew stands ready to fell the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree

A crew stands ready to fell the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree, which was harvested from Sweet Home Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest in Oregon. Photo by James Edward Mills of The Joy Trip Project (Nov. 2, 2018).

The Willamette National Forest was selected to provide to 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree because the climate and growing conditions on the west side of the Cascade Mountains lends itself to perfect conditions for growing trees of all kinds, including Christmas trees of ALL sizes. It took a long time to find the perfect Christmas Tree.  I don’t know about your family, but it takes a long time for my family to find our Christmas Tree. There are always lots of opinions about what makes the perfect tree and not everyone always agrees.  It’s like a beauty contest for trees. Only the best will do to adorn the west lawn of our Nation’s Capitol. Of the thousands of trees that we looked at, this one was by far the most beautiful.  It is 80 feet tall with a perfect shape looking lovely from all sides.  The blue green needles seem to shimmer in the mist turning upwards slightly towards the sky, a classic noble fir tree.

Panels for constructing a plywood and Plexiglas box stand ready to be assembled around the the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree.

Panels for constructing a plywood and Plexiglas box stand ready to be assembled around the the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree. It took about a week to prepare the tree for its cross-country journey. USDA Forest Service photo by Joanie Schmidgall (Nov. 4, 2018)

Cutting the tree was the next step.  The weather on the cutting day was rather typical for Oregon: Wet. VERY wet. But I suppose that is the price of having such lovely green trees. It took a village of partners and friends to cut the tree without a single limb touching the ground. A crane was attached to the top of the tree and when the tree was cut it hung there suspended and swaying slightly.  A firefighter from the Willamette National Forest was the person who cut the tree.  He has lots of experience using a chainsaw and that was a good thing with so many people watching.  He didn’t seem nervous at all.  I would have been! Once the tree was cut, it was gently placed on special cradles on the back of the truck designed to support the tree and keep the branches from being crushed or broken.

The tree was located in the middle of the woods. Getting the tree eight miles down a narrow, windy, gravel road was a bit tricky. The truck and trailer are 102 feet long! It took a special piece of equipment to pick up the back end of the trailer and move it around each corner. The narrow bridges were tricky too, but thanks to the great skill of the truck driver, the tree made it safely to Highway 20.  Because the truck and trailer are so long and would not be able to make it around all of the corners and still safely in its lane, the highway had to be closed.  Saturday, the tree pulled into Sweet Home to the cheers of the people lucky enough to see it before it was boxed up for the big journey.

Plexi_glass_pannels

The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree is being transported in a special shipping container constructed with Plexiglas panels on the sides, so visitors can catch a “sneak peak” of the tree at events celebrating its journey from the Sweet Home Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest in Oregon to Washington D.C. USDA Forest Service photo by Joanie Schmidgall. (Nov. 5, 2018)

The next order of business was wrapping the tree.  The tree needs to be boxed for its 3,000 mile journey to protect it from the weather.  A local mill was kind enough to donate a dry warehouse for the wrapping. A large “bladder bag” was placed at the trunk of the tree so that it has water along the way.  It even has a heater so that it does not freeze. Bright red panels were placed on the truck one by one until the entire tree was boxed up.  Plexiglas panels at the back end of the truck allow people to see the top twenty feet of the beautiful Oregon noble fir tree.  The visible part is decorated with lights and a sample of the 10,000 ornaments hand made by the people of Oregon to decorate the tree in Washington D.C.

A bladder bag is fitted at the base of the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree to help keep the tree hydrated during its cross-country journey

This “bladder bag” will be filled with water help keep the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree fresh-looking and green during it’s month-long journey to Washington D.C. You can cut your own Christmas tree on National Forests! Contact a Visitor Center or Ranger Station for your local forest to learn more about the agency’s Christmas Tree permit program. Permits cost $5; trailhead, day-use, or Sno-Park permits may also be required at some locations. A Christmas Tree cutting permit is available at no cost to 4th graders who’ve requested their free, interagency public lands access pass through the Every Kid in a Park program – for details, visit https://everykidinapark.gov/USDA Forest Service photo by Joanie Schmidgall (Nov. 5, 2018)

Banners are placed on the sides of the truck thanking all of the people and businesses that have helped with the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree.  None of this would have been possible without the help of SO MANY people in Oregon and across the Nation.  The unity and helpfulness I have seen bring tears of joy and gratitude to my eyes. From many of the stories I have read, the Oregon pioneers had a similar experience along the Oregon Trail with strangers helping strangers and becoming friends along the way.  As we travel across the Country there will be many stops so that people can sign the banners, a giant card to accompany this gift from the people of Oregon to the people of the United States of America. I hope to see many of you again, in person, along the Oregon Trail at the numerous public events along the way!

The adventure begins Friday, Nov. 9. There are many ways to virtually join the tour: follow our journey at TrackTheTree.com for near-real time tracking of our precious cargo, check out this daily travel blog, learn more about the places we’re visiting on the Forest Service story map, and visit the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website http://www.capitolchristmastree.com/ and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Questions can be emailed to capitolchristmastree2018@gmail.com, and I will answer them as soon as I can.

Nikki Swanson
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest

District Ranger Nikki Swanson, Sweet Home Ranger District.

District Ranger Nikki Swanson, Sweet Home Ranger District, Willamette National Forest, delivers remarks at the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree cutting Nov. 2, 2018. Photo by James Edward Mills of The Joy Trip Project.

UPDATED: 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree route celebrates Oregon Trail

Map of the US Capitol Christmas tree route from Oregon to Washington D.C.

SWEET HOME, Ore. – Updated Nov. 6, 2018 The “People’s Tree” will begin its cross-country journey from Oregon to Washington D.C., this weekend.

The Willamette National Forest, in partnership with nonprofit agency Choose Outdoors and Travel Oregon, have announced the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree tour, which will celebrate the tree’s journey from the forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District in Oregon to the U.S. Capitol, where it will help the nation celebrate the holiday season.

Each year, a different National Forest is selected to provide a tree to appear on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the Christmas season.

The 2018 tour announcement celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails Systems Act, with the theme “Find Your Trail,” tour stops, and community celebrations  to reflect and celebrate both the National Trails System, and the historical Oregon Trail.

Businesses donated ornaments for hikers to find while exploring local trails on the forest, and volunteers created thousands of handmade ornaments and other decorations to adorn the Capitol Christmas tree and dozens of others to be provided by the forest for display inside the U.S. Capitol Building.

On Friday, Nov. 2, the tree will be cut and prepared for the more than 3,000-mile journey that commemorates the second inspiration for the theme – the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail – by following a reverse path of the trail.

A series of festive events will be hosted by local communities at museums, main streets, city halls, state capitols, markets, retailers, high schools, and even a parade. Attendees will have the chance to sign banners on the sides of the truck to wish the tree well, learn more about the Willamette National Forest and the great state of Oregon, purchase U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree merchandise and more.

The tree will arrive at Andrews Air Force Base (Joint Base Andrews), Maryland on Nov. 25, for transportation to the U.S. Capitol lawn for a tree-lighting ceremony hosted by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in early December.

2018 Capitol Christmas Tree tour:

Tour stops may include community celebrations, activities and events. Details are provided where available. All times are approximate and do not account for unforeseen weather and traffic delays, and locations of stops are subject to change. Monitor website at https://capitolchristmastree.com/tour for the latest updates.

  • Nov. 9: Sweet Home, Ore. Sweet Home High School, 1641 Long St, Sweet Home, OR 97386 (12 p.m. Street Fair, 6 p.m. Parade and 7:30 p.m. Program)
  • Nov. 10: Albany, Ore. Linn County Circuit Court, 300 SW Fourth Avenue, Albany, OR 97321 (11 a.m. – noon)
  • Nov. 10: Springfield, Ore. Cabela’s, 2800 Gateway Street, Springfield, OR 97477 (4 – 5:30 p.m.)
  • Nov. 11: McKenzie Bridge, Ore. Tokatee Golf Course, 54947 McKenzie Hwy, McKenzie Bridge, OR 97413 (10:30 – 11:30 a.m.)
  • Nov. 11: Oakridge, Ore. 48257 E. 1st, Oakridge, OR 97463 (2:30 – 4:30 p.m.)
  • Nov. 12: Bend, Ore. 450 SW Powerhouse Dr., Ste 422, Bend, OR 97702 (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.)
  • Nov. 12: Detroit, Ore. 160 Detroit Ave, Detroit, OR 97342 (5 – 7 p.m.)
  • Nov. 13: Salem, Ore. Oregon State Capitol, 900 Court St NE, Salem, OR 97301 (10 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
  • Nov. 13: Oregon City, Ore. (4 p.m., Details TBD).
  • Nov. 14: The Dalles, Ore. The Dalles City Hall, 313 Court Street, The Dalles, Oregon 97058 (9 – 10 a.m.)
  • Nov. 14: Baker City, Ore. (4 p.m., Details TBD).
  • Nov. 16: Pocatello, Idaho. City Hall, 911 North 7th Avenue, Pocatello, ID 83201 (9 – 10 a.m.)
  • Nov. 16: Soda Springs, Idaho. Soda Springs City Park; 51 E 2nd S, Soda Springs, ID 83276 (noon – 1 p.m.)
  • Nov. 17: Fort Bridger, Wyo. Ft. Bridger State Historic Site, 37001 Isthmus Loop I-80 Fort Bridger, WY 82933 (9 – 10 a.m.)
  • Nov. 18: Laramie, Wyo. 975 Snowy Range Road, Laramie, WY 82070 (9 – 10 a.m.)
  • Nov. 18: Scottsbluff, Neb. Parade route from 23rd St. to 17th Street on Broadway and ceremony on the 1700 block of Broadway (3 – 4 p.m.)
  • Nov. 19: Nebraska City, Neb. Otoe County Courthouse, 110 South 11th, Nebraska City, NE 68410 (6 – 7 p.m.)
  • Nov. 20: Perry, Kansas. Perry High School, 404 Lecompton Rd, Perry, KS 66073 (12 – 1 p.m.)
  • Nov. 20: Kansas City, Mo. MHC Kenworth, 1524 N. Corrington, Kansas City, MO 64120 (4 – 5 p.m.)
  • Nov. 21: Independence, Mo. Independence Uptown Market, 201 W. Truman Rd, Independence, MO 64050 (9 a.m. – 10 a.m.)
  • Nov. 22: St. Louis, Mo. 2018 Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade, 7th Street and Market Street, St. Louis, MO (8 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
  • Nov. 23: Harrison, Ohio. The Harrison Pavilion, 101 Harrison Avenue, Harrison, OH 45030 (5 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
  • Nov. 25: Joint Base Andrews, Md. Andrews Air Force Base, 1500 Perimeter Rd. Joint Base Andrews, MD (11 a.m. – 4 p.m., event at 2 p.m.)

The official tree lighting will occur Wed., Dec. 5 on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The tree will be lit by Oregon fourth-grader Brigette Harrington, whose essay about love for Oregon’s outdoors was selected by the Governor and her staff from around 1,200 entries. Read her essay here: http://www.capitolchristmastree.com/The-Peoples-Tree/contest.

This is the first tree selected from the Willamette National Forest and the second tree to come from Oregon.

The trip to Washington, D.C. is made possible thanks to large and small companies and volunteers locally and across America who provide support of time and resources, including Pape Kenworth, KGW8, Kenworth Truck Company, Central Oregon Truck Company, SkyBitz, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Hale Trailer, VanDoIt, Alaska Airlines, Husqvarna, Meritor, Pilot Flying J, Truckload Carriers Association, Willamette Valley Visitors Association, Axis Crane, Eaton, Great West Casualty Company, the National Forest Foundation and the City of Sweet Home.

For tour information, event details, news and updates, and to track the tree cross-country, visit www.capitolchristmastree.com or www.fs.usda.gov/willamette.

Map of the US Capitol Christmas tree route from Oregon to Washington D.C.

Find Your Trail! The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree tour theme celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails Systems Act, one of the inspirations for the 2018 theme of “Find Your Trail.” The trail route celebrates the Oregon Trail, a National Trails Systems Act designated historical trail.

Capitol Tree Oregon Trail route map (PDF)

***

About the Willamette National Forest, Oregon

With more than 1.5 million acres, the beautiful Willamette National Forest is home to eight wilderness areas – including the popular Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson Wildernesses—and has over 1,700 miles of trails for hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The varied landscapes of the high mountains, coastal rainforests, narrow canyons, and cascading streams offer visitors excellent opportunities to play and explore. We encourage people to use the #FindYourTrail hashtag as they explore trails and other areas of their local National Forest.

Sweet Home, Ore., is often referred to as the “Gateway to the Santiam Playground” due to its proximity to the Sweet Home Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest and its trails, lakes, rivers and mountains.

About the U.S. Forest Service

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land; provides assistance to state and private landowners; and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. For more information, see www.fs.fed.us.


Source information: Willamette National Forest staff report

 

Essay contest: Oregon 4th graders can enter to win trip to light U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

A photo of the 2017 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, lit with multiple colored holiday lights, outside the Capitol at dusk. The Capitol Dome is also lit, by floodlights.

SALEM, Ore. – September 12, 2018 – One lucky Oregon 4th grader will win a trip to Washington, D.C., where he or she will join the U.S. Speaker of the House in lighting the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

The Capitol Christmas Tree committee launched an essay contest today asking 4th grade students from Oregon to write letters about what they love about Oregon’s outdoors to coincide with the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree theme, “Find Your Trail!”

Governor Kate Brown will select one student author from statewide letter submissions to receive a once-in-a-lifetime all-expenses paid trip for the winner and one guardian to travel to Washington, D.C. to take part in the tree-lighting ceremony alongside members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the public. The winner and the guardian will also attend festivities surrounding the tree lighting taking place throughout the Capitol.

The application is located at https://www.oregon.gov/gov/pages/contest.aspx. Oregon 3rd and 4th Grade teachers are invited to utilize the Oregon Forest Resources Institute’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Instruction Guide, which is designed for students to learn why Oregon is such a great place for growing trees, and the importance of trees and forests to our state and beyond.

All U.S. 4th grade students are also eligible to receive a free annual pass to hundreds of parks, lands and waters across the United States for an entire year through the Every Kid In A Park program. Eligible 4th grade students can also apply to receive a free Christmas Tree cutting permit as part of this program (details here).

The tradition of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree began in 1964. Each year a different national forest is chosen to provide “The People’s Tree” for the holiday season.

Oregon’s tree will come from the Willamette National Forest as a gift to the people of the United States, and will be displayed on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C in December 2018.

Applications and essay submissions are due by Friday, September 28, 2018. The winner will be announced October 12, 2018 and travel to Washington, D.C. during the first week of December. Please help students ensure their submissions are formatted with 12 point font, 1 inch margins and double spacing.

Essays should be no longer than 500 words, and will be evaluated on the following criteria: relevant content, clear focus, and originality.

See the Capitol Christmas Tree as it travels along the Oregon Trail in November 2018! Information about the tree, travel route, schedule and special events will be available at www.capitolchristmastree.com.

To get involved: Email capitolchristmastree2018@gmail.com.

***

Willamette National Forest: With more than 1.5 million acres, the beautiful Willamette National Forest, Oregon, is home to eight wilderness areas—including the popular Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson Wildernesses—and has over 1,700 miles of trails for hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The varied landscapes of the high mountains, coastal rainforests, narrow canyons, and cascading streams offer visitors excellent opportunities to play and explore. We encourage people to use the #FindYourTrail hashtag as they explore trails and other areas of their local National Forest.

Sweet Home, Ore., is often referred to as the “Gateway to the Santiam Playground” due to its proximity to the Sweet Home Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest and its trails, lakes, rivers and mountains.

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree: For more than 50 years, the USDA Forest Service has provided the Capitol Christmas Tree, also known as the People’s Tree, which symbolizes hope and the holiday spirit. It is an annual reminder of the beauty found in our National Forests. For more information, visit www.capitolchristmastree.com.


Source information: Willamette National Forest staff and 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree Committee joint release

 

 

Last call to contribute ornaments to 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree!

Two women pose with an array of handmade Christmas tree skirts

SWEET HOME, Ore. – Aug. 24, 2018 – Oregonians have contributed thousands of hand-made ornaments to adorn dozens of trees from the Willamette National Forest that will decorate the U.S. Capitol halls this summer… but there’s still work to do!

The 70-foot Capitol Christmas Tree, whose massive, be-decked boughs will bring season’s greetings from the state to visitors on the National Mall throughout the holiday season, still needs a bit more, um, sprucing up.*

* The 2018 Capitol Christmas tree is not actually a spruce, it’s a fir – either a Douglas Fir or a Noble Fir. The tree was selected by the Architect of the Capitol this summer, and it’s identity is still being kept under wraps for security reasons but will be announced shortly before the tree is felled this fall.

“We still need large ornaments,” Stephani Gatchell, the Ornament Lead for Sweet Home Ranger District, which is providing this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree. Around 2000 more ornaments, in fact. It will take 3,500 large ornaments, in all, to decorate the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree.

Ornaments contributed to date have sported an eclectic mix Oregon, outdoors, and forest-focused themes as diverse as their creators. Freedom Hill Church offered placards, painted with spiritual messages of hope and peace, campers from Camp Harlow in Eugene delivered 400 decorated sugar pine cone ornaments for the small trees, and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) delivered 17 tree skirts in addition to more than 800 ornaments.

But because the main Capitol Christmas Tree is so tall, and is displayed outdoors, ornaments for this tree have some additional requirements.

Large Capitol Christmas tree ornaments should be:

  • 9-12 inches in size,
  • Reflective and colorful
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof.

Logos are not permitted on ornaments for the Capitol Christmas Tree.

Are you up for the challenge? Visit https://www.capitolchristmastree.com/participate/decorate.html to learn how you can contribute to this incredible display of seasonal spirit and Oregon pride in Washington D.C. during the 2018 winter holiday season.

Ornaments must be received by October 1, 2018. They can be dropped off in person at any one of our drop locations located here or mailed to the Sweet Home Ranger District at: 4431 Hwy 20, Sweet Home OR 97386.

For more information, contact Sweet Home Ranger Station by calling (541) 367-5168 or email capitolchristmastree2018@gmail.com.

Have you found your Capitol Christmas Tree commemorative ornament yet?

More than 100 have been found, but there are still more to find! Registered ornaments could win instant prizes and are entered in a drawing for a trip to see the 2018 tree-lighting in Washington D.C.

Check to see what trails still have unclaimed ornaments at this link, and #FindYourTrail! (Contest ends Oct. 2, 2018).

More info: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/willamette/home/?cid=FSEPRD581522



Source information: Willamette National Forest staff

In the News: Capitol Christmas Tree

A 30' diameter felled tree, viewed from the cut end, is hoised by a crane while a crowd of people look on.

It takes a team to find “America’s Christmas Tree,” the tree that will greet visitors and lawmakers to the U.S. Capitol this holiday season. This year, the 2018 Capitol Christmas tree will be found on the Willamette National Forest in southern Oregon.

While there are thousands of trees to choose from, only a few will meet exacting standards set by the Architect of the Capitol. The Willamette’s “tree team” has led an exhaustive search for the perfect tree and this week, they hosted a representative from the Architect of the Capitol to view the final candidates so he can make the official selection, which will be announced in November when the 80′ tree is felled for it’s cross-country journey east to Washington D.C.

Stories:

2018 Capitol Christmas Tree selection underway on Willamette, NF

The 2017 Capital Christmas Tree is displayed on the National Mall, outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.

SWEET HOME, Ore. – Aug. 9, 2018 – A representative of the Architect of the Capitol is visiting the Willamette National Forest to  select the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which be displayed on the National Mall in December.

The forest’s local “tree team,” which includes foresters and a botanist, have been working with their southwest Oregon community for months to identify the candidates, which include 80′ by 30′ specimens representing several native Oregon specieis.

The 2018 Capital Christmas Tree logo features green trees, a snow-capped mountain, and a winding trail to represent Willamette National Forest.

Willamette National Forest still needs ornaments to decorate the tree! Info: www.capitolchristmastree.com

Jim Kaufmann, the Director of the Capitol Grounds and Arboretum at the Architect of the Capitol, the federal agency responsible for the operations and care of the Capitol buildings and grounds, will make the final selection following his visit, which will be announced when the tree is cut in early November.

“Oregon is known around the country for its spectacular natural beauty, including its incredible national forests. It’s a privilege to visit the Willamette National Forest to select the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree,” Kaufmann said. “I have no doubt that we will find the perfect tree for the West Lawn of the Capitol, and we’re thrilled to have Oregon be an important part of the nation’s holiday celebration this year.”

Forest staff had invited members of their community to help identify suitable trees for the eff, and continues to work with local individuals and organizations to produce the 10,000 ornaments needed to decorate the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree, and dozens of smaller trees that will be displayed throughout the Capitol itself.

Kaufmann will be evaluating each tree for a variety of desired characteristics, including being 65-85 feet in height, having a straight stem, uniform branching, a perfectly conical shape, natural density, and rich green color. Each of the tree candidates is either a Douglas or Noble fir tree, the two most iconic conifer species in both the Willamette National Forest and the state. The Douglas-fir is Oregon’s official state tree. Also of great importance is the tree’s accessibility by crane and semi-truck for when it’s time for it to be harvested. Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service is evaluating each location to ensure the protection of sensitive habitats and species.

“It’s very exciting to have reached this stage of the yearlong Capitol Christmas Tree process, which started in January when the U.S. Forest Service announced that the Willamette National Forest had been selected to provide the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree,” Nikki Swanson, Sweet Home District Ranger, said. “We have identified some absolutely beautiful candidates that will represent the State of Oregon perfectly, and we look forward to unveiling the winning tree in November, as we tour it along the Oregon Trail on its way to Washington, D.C.”

The theme for the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree is “Find Your Trail!” in recognition of two 2018 anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act and the 175th commemoration of the Oregon Trail. In November, the Capitol Christmas Tree will travel eastward from Oregon on the reverse path of the Oregon Trail. The schedule and special events will be announced on October 30, 2018.

You still have a chance to win a trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighting and festivities, through the “Find Your Ornament” contest!

Earlier this summer, 200 glass ornaments were hidden along non-wilderness trails on the Willamette National Forest for lucky adventurers to find. In addition to a keepsake ornament, more than 120 winners will be awarded prizes, and all entrants will be automatically entered to win the grand prize trip to Washington, D.C.

The contest runs through October 2, 2018. Further details are available at the Willamette Valley Visitors Association website.


Source information:

Willamette National Forest public affairs staff. Learn more about the Capitol Christmas Tree, at: www.capitolchristmastree.comTo get involved, email the Willamette National Forest Christmas “Tree team” at capitolchristmastree2018@gmail.com.

‘Christmas in July’: Help decorate 2018 Capitol tree July 25 in Eugene, Corvallis

Slices of tree branches, made into ornaments and decorated to resemble owls and reindeer.

EUGENE, Ore. – June 29, 2018 – Celebrate “Christmas in July” with Eugene Emeralds baseball and Willamette National Forest July 25, 2018 at PK Park in Eugene, Ore.!

The Willamette National Forest will supply the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree this December, and is contributing additional trees to be displayed throughout the U.S. Capitol this holiday season.

Game attendees will have an opportunity to help the forest reach it’s goal of supplying 10,000 unique “Pacific Northwest”nature-themed ornaments to decorate the trees while they are on display!

If you attend:

Gates open at 6 p.m. See Smokey Bear throw the first pitch to start the game at 7 p.m.!

Ornament making stations will be located at the first base plaza.

The Emeralds will play wearing special “ugly sweater” jerseys.

A limited number of discounted tickets are available for purchase at
groupmatics.events/event/USFS.

(PS: The ballpark has Kids Eat Free promotion every Wednesday. Kids 12 & under will receive a voucher when they enter, which can be exchanged for a free hot dog, chips & soda in the concession area).

More upcoming ornament-making opportunities at community events:

  • Sportsman’s Holiday – July 14 at 10 a.m., Sweet Home High School, Sweet Home, Ore.
  • ‘Christmas in July’ with Corvallis Knights baseball – July 25, 6:30 p.m. at Goss Stadium, Corvallis, Ore. Tickets at corvallisknights.com/tickets/
  • Oregon Jamboree – August 3-5, Sweet Home High School, Sweet Home, Ore.
  • Sweet Home Community Health Fair – August 18 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Sweet Home High School Activity Center
  • Oregon State Fair – August 25 and September 1 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Salem, Ore.
  • Harvest Fest – Saturday October 13 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Sankey Park, Sweet Home, Ore.

You can host your own ornament-making event! For more information about the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree, visit www.capitolchristmastree.org.

Willamette National Forest staff

A group of four people, three women and one man, show the series of Oregon-themed ornaments they created at the fair

Participants show off the ornaments they made at the Willamette National Forest’s 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree ornament-making booth at the Brownsville Pioneer Picnic on July 16 and 17, 2018 in Brownsville, Ore.

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