2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Makes Pit Stop in Hagerstown

- HAGERSTOWN, Md - It was a blustery morning but that did not stop the Hagerstown Premium Outlets from receiving a visitor in its parking lot.

"We try to keep our drive time six to eight hours," says Robert Sanchez, Colville National Forest District Ranger.

It was the 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, an 88 -foot tall Engelmann Spruce tree. It was carried in a long tractor trailer covered in a banner, allowing residents to write holiday messages for America.

Washington County, Maryland was just one of the many pit stops of its journey. It took a 3,800 mile trip across the United States within 26 stops in 22 days.

"It sounds like it's been going on for quite some time, and they call it the People's Tree," says Belinda Vinson, manager of Volvo Group's Hagerstown Powertrain.

The National Forest has been providing the Capitol Tree since 1970 but not every tree qualifies to be the chosen one.

"So we ended up with about 70 trees, and we narrowed that down to about ten trees and the criteria that was given to us is that very simply, it has to look like a Christmas tree and range from about 65 to 80 feet," adds Sanchez.

The tree is a Washington's gift to the nation and people throughout the state. It is the second time the Evergreen State has supplied the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The 2008 tree came from Western Washington, and this year is Eastern Washington.

Thousands of ornaments accompanied the tree inside the truck, all decorated by students in the state of Washington.

"In that truck are also about 6,000 Christmas ornaments that were handmade by the people across Washington. I think the ornaments are placed in a variety of ways; a cherry picker up high and down low by hand," adds Sanchez.

The Future Farmers of America (FFA) was just one of the many organizations taking part in the celebration, answering questions about forestry.

"We're a big part of the forestry service. Forestry actually has a lot to do with agriculture. It's a big part of the agriculture industry," says Jordan Davis, Clear Spring
High School FFA president.

The tree will arrive in Washington D.C. on Monday, November 25, 2013. After a week of preparation, the tree will be lit on December 3, 2013.

























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