And with this countdown the journey of three thousand miles for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from Montana’s Kootenai National Forest comes to end or just begins for those who have yet to see the massive 79-foot Engelmann spruce now on Capitol Hill.
Starting tonight local residents and tourists will be able to view this gleaming tree adorned with thousands of hand-made ornaments crafted by children from all over the state of Montana. The tree, called Beauty of the Big Sky, began its cross-country sojourn in early November and has made over 30 stops at towns and cities along the way.
Traveling alongside the spruce was a one of the largest tree-topping stars ever made for a harvested tree. Despite concerns that the star might be too large and heavy for the tree, the sturdy Engelmann spruce held its own and the star has been successfully installed.
The lighting was hosted by the Architect of the Capitol with members of the Montana Congressional Delegation speaking as well as USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue,with the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker, Paul Ryan, presiding over the ceremony held on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill.
Carrying on a decades old tradition, a child from the tree’s home state flipped the switch to illumine the tree. Ridley Brandmayr, an 11-year-old Bozeman boy who lost the fingers of his right hand in an accident this summer, was chosen by Montana Sen. Jon Tester for the honors.
Since 1970 the U.S. Forest Service has provided the national Capitol Christmas Tree.