About Capitol Christmas Tree 2009


  • 2009 will the first year Arizona has contributed the Capitol Christmas Tree.
  • The 2009 tree will be harvested from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests located in northeastern Arizona.
  • Arizona’s tree is about 125 years old. That’s longer than Arizona has been a state!
  • The Forest Service recommends 6 to 8 trees for selection. However, the U.S. Capitol Architect makes the final selection and determines which tree will be the official Capitol Christmas Tree.
  • It is estimated that the tree selected will be approximately 75 feet tall.
  • Imagine a 6-story tall building—that is about how tall the Capitol Christmas Tree will be.
  • An additional 75 companion trees will be delivered to the Capitol and placed in federal offices, congressional and senate offices, as well as the United State Supreme Court.


  • Arizona’s tree will travel throughout the state visiting nearly 24 cities and towns before it journeys to Washington, D.C. The Arizona state tour will take about 10 days.
  • The Capitol Christmas Tree 2009 will make frequent stops across the nation on its way to Washington, D.C., escorted by federal officials. The national tour will take about another 10 days.
  • The tree will travel on a double flatbed truck. Placed on its side, it will rest in a custom cradle that supports the branches, preventing damage and maintaining the tree’s perfect shape.
  • A caravan of approximately 12 vehicles, including two semi-trucks, will escort the tree east. The Capitol Christmas Tree 2009 will travel more than 3,000 miles during its three-week tour.
  • The base of the tree will be fitted with a plastic bladder filled with fresh water nightly. The tree will absorb about 65 gallons of water each day throughout its trek to Washington, D.C.
  • A full-sized semi-truck will be needed to transport all the ornaments delivered to Washington, D.C.


  • The children of Arizona will make the 5,000 ornaments used to decorate the tree. The ornaments will be 9 to 12 inches tall and must be made to withstand 3 weeks of harsh winter weather.
  • An additional 1,000 ornaments will be made for the 75 companion trees displayed throughout the Capitol.
  • About 10,000 LED Christmas lights are strung throughout the tree.
  • It takes more than a week for the U.S. Capitol Architect and his team to decorate.
  • The Capitol Christmas Tree is topped by the same single star ornament used each year.
  • The tree will be placed into a hole nearly five feet deep and actually cemented into place.
  • Although Capitol Christmas trees are varied heights, when installed they can be no taller than 65 feet. The Capitol landscape crew does not have a basket crane taller than that!


  • Often called “The People’s Tree,” the Capitol Christmas Tree from Arizona will actually be presented to Congress as a gift from the Grand Canyon State.
  • The Speaker of the House officially lights the tree. The Capitol Christmas Tree 2009 will be illuminated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with the Arizona congressional delegation, Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl along with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in attendance.
  • Once the tree is lit, it is open for public viewing throughout the holidays until January 1, 2010. The lights come on at dusk and are turned off nightly at 11:00 p.m.
  • During the official lighting ceremony, Arizona culture will be highlighted, including an original cowboy poem and Native American dancers.


  • The Capitol Christmas Tree will come from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in northeastern Arizona.
  • Regulations, issues and conservation practices are observed throughout the process of selecting the tree.
  • In January 2010, when the holiday concludes, the tree will be chipped into mulch and used throughout Capitol Complex landscape projects.


  • The Capitol Christmas Tree 2009 is privately funded and donations are being sought.
  • Arizona artists will compete in a statewide art contest. The winning artwork will be displayed in the permanent Capitol Christmas Tree collection of the United States Agriculture Department.
  • As the Capitol Christmas Tree travels across the nation, Arizona will be promoted.
  • The project will be documented at the interactive website www.CapitolChristmasTree2009.org.
  • Arizona and timber forests are not generally mentioned in the same sentence. A Capitol Christmas Tree from the Grand Canyon State will be a unique holiday topic of discussion.


United States Forest Service