St. Paul, MN -(Ammoland.com)- The 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree will make its first public appearance on its journey to Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Nov. 2, at Itasca State Park, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.
The 60- to 80-foot-tall white spruce is coming from the Chippewa National Forest in north-central Minnesota, in partnership with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. The 1992 Capitol Christmas tree also came from the same forest in partnership with the band. The tree will stop at the Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers Show Grounds at the north entrance to the park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
To kick off the event, the tree will receive a drink of water via a horse-drawn wagon courtesy of the Go and Whoa Harness Club of Bemidji. The water will be transported from the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park to the Pioneer Farmers Show Grounds where visitors can view the tree, photograph it and sign a banner. The drink from the headwaters will help send the tree on its long journey of nearly 2,000 miles, which includes nearly 30 stops before it arrives in Washington.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the show grounds, a variety of activities will be offered, including horse-drawn wagon rides, tours of the Pioneer Farmers village buildings, a free-will offering lunch, music, ornament making, face painting, two-man log sawing and a visit by “Lars the Logger” from 1:15 to 2 p.m.
The search for the Capitol Christmas Tree began earlier this year. Search criteria for the Chippewa National Forest staff included a tree 60- to 80-feet tall, a full pyramid-like shape without gaps, healthy branches, a straight trunk, and a species hardy enough to withstand the trip to Washington, D.C. The tree had to be found among millions of other trees that make up the national forest.
The tree will be cut during a public ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 29, and will be moved to Bemidji State University, where it will be prepared for the cross-country expedition that includes a caravan of caretakers.
The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, or “The People’s Tree,” began in 1964, when then speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John W. McCormack placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. This tree lived three years before succumbing to wind and root damage.
In 1970, the capitol architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree. Since then, a different national forest has been selected each year to provide “The People’s Tree.” The Minnesota Tree Growers Association will provide 70 companion trees to decorate the inside of the U.S. Capitol building and other sites throughout Washington, along with 10,000 ornaments created by children and others in Minnesota as a gift from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”
The Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the preservation and display of historic, rural/logging related Americana, for cultural, educational, entertainment, and heritage-related public benefits.
For more information on the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree and to track its journey, visit Capitol Christmas Tree.
For more information on Itasca State Park, visit MNDNR Itasca.
About the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR)
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is the agency of the U.S. state of Minnesota charged with conserving and managing the state’s natural resources. The agency maintains areas such as state parks, state forests, recreational trails, and recreation areas as well as managing minerals, wildlife, and forestry. The agency is currently divided into sections Ecological Resources, Enforcement, Fish & Wildlife, Forestry, Lands and Minerals, Waterways, Parks and Trails, and Waters.