This afternoon, AK Kid and I stood on a windy corner of the Chugach National Forest and listened to the sound of history being made. For 50 years, a towering tree has graced the West Lawn of the the United States Capitol during the holiday season. Brightly-lit and sporting ornaments from its respective state, the tree is known as the “People’s Tree” for its symbolism of community character and unique heritage.
In 2015, the Capitol Christmas Tree will come from the Last Frontier, making an epic 4,000-mile journey by land and sea to end up on the grounds of our nation’s capitol. And we got to see it.
The Chugach National Forest, in partnership with nonprofit organization Choose Outdoors are helping to provide this special gift from Alaska to Washington, D.C., involving more than 15 communities along the way, including Seattle WA, Missoula MT, Rapid City, SD, and Findlay, OH before arriving on November 20 at the Capitol.
A crowd of about 100 people listened to the chain saw fire up and get to work, followed by careful jockeying of the 75-foot Lutz spruce onto its cradle aboard a flatbed truck for its first appearance tonight at the Alaska SeaLife Center. It was a moment filled with awe and “ahhhhhh,” and neither AK Kid nor I will forget it anytime soon.
Alaskans will have two more opportunities to view the tree, and celebrate the occasion with their community:
Friday, October 30, 5-8 p.m. Cabela’s Anchorage (155 W. 104th Avenue, 99515). Come see the tree, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, have some food, hear some music, or take a hay ride. Free, and all are welcome.
Saturday, October 31, noon-4 p.m. Trick or Treat Street Anchorage (4th Avenue and downtown core). Kids in costume will have a special treat as they view the Capitol Christmas Tree on its truck in downtown Anchorage. Maybe Santa will be there, too?
The nationwide schedule of tree-related events can be found HERE.
Anyone can follow the tree’s progress via the Track the Tree website, found HERE. If you see it, and post a photo or video on a social media channel, use the hashtags #chugach2015 or #capitolchristmastree.
I am fully aware that not everyone celebrates the Christmas holiday, or thinks the cutting of a live tree makes much sense, but bear with me the symbolism of the moment. The Lutz spruce is a naturally-occuring hybrid between a Sitka spruce and White spruce; a community effort of a natural sort. The ornaments for this tree were made by people from every corner of Alaska, from Barrow to Ketchikan, and created with respect for the state we love. That Alaska was selected for the first time means all the best parts of the Last Frontier are on display in Washington, D.C.
And that’s a good thing.