November 1, 2009

November 1, 2009 10:47 am


If you ever doubted that Christmas existed in Arizona look no further than the Capitol Christmas Tree 2009 project.  For the first time in our history, the Grand Canyon State has the honor of giving the annual Christmas tree to the United States Capitol in Washington.  After an exhaustive search throughout the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in the White Mountains, an 85-foot Blue spruce was selected.  Taller than a 7-story building, the giant tree will travel across Arizona on a 10-day tour and then head east which will take another two weeks.  Ultimately this iconic symbol of the holidays will be delivered to the United States Congress where it will be adorned with 10,000 lights and 6,000 ornaments handmade by the school children of Arizona.

The holiday tradition of lighting the People’s Tree in front of the Capitol building was first started by then Speaker of the House, Carl T. Hayden in 1947.  The venerable politician from Arizona, who left such an indelible mark upon the West, probably never thought that his beloved state would have the opportunity to participate.  He was right until now.  It took more than sixty years, but Arizona has been invited to provide the Capitol Christmas tree.  With a theme called “Arizona’s Gift” the tree is a time for our state to share with the nation the fact that we have a lot more than just hot rocks and cactus.

So why the excitement?  I have signed up to work on the statewide project with a group of dedicated volunteers and sage foresters from the United States Forest Service.  For the past eight months a small group of us have met in a quiet Show Low library hashing out the process of delivering an enormous conifer 4,000 miles to our nation’s center of power.  For me, the drive to our confab is three hours up and three hours back with members of our committee coming from all parts of the White Mountains.  From t-shirts to truckers, we have crafted a plan to bring Arizonans together in this historic event.

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United States Forest Service