The 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be cut from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District on Friday, Nov. 2.
Two public events will be hosted by Sweet Home Ranger District so Oregonians can both see and celebrate the cutting, part of the ongoing U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree campaign.
Fifty people who register at capitolchristmastree2018.eventbrite.com will be able to attend the tree cutting event. Willamette officials said the number of public attendees is limited by the size of the area surrounding the tree and the need to accommodate tree-lifting cranes and a large truck.
The event will include brief remarks by the Forest Service employees, local officials and partners. Attendees will be shuttled to the site, which is about an hour from Sweet Home on rural forest roads.
The tree cutting will take place between 11:15 a.m. and noon. The tree will be cut with a saw donated by Husqvarna and the tree-lifting crane and supporting equipment provided by Papé and Axis Crane. Attendees will be shuttled back and should return to River Bend County Park by 1:30 p.m. There will be tents and bathroom facilities, but people should be prepared for inclement weather, including rain or snow. For full event details, participant requirements and online registration, visit capitolchristmastree2018.eventbrite.com.
A second celebratory event will be at River Bend County Park at 1:30 p.m. A video of the tree cutting will be broadcast on a giant screen and light refreshments will be provided. The event is open to the public and registration is not required. In attendance will be the “tree team” comprised of Forest Service officials, partners and sponsors.
“We are thrilled to be able to share this exciting part of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree’ s journey with our fellow Oregonians” said Nikki Swanson, Sweet Home District Ranger. “The people of Oregon have been instrumental to the success of this project. From the kindness of our cooperators to everyone who helped make ornaments and tree skirts, Oregonians have come together to send this beautiful Noble Fir and over 10,000 ornaments as a gift from the state of Oregon to the U.S. Capitol and all Americans,”
After the tree is cut, it will go to Sweet Home where it will be prepared for the eastward journey on a Kenworth W990 truck. It will leave Sweet Home on Friday, Nov. 9, for its 3,000-mile road trip through Oregon and across the country to Washington, D.C.
The theme for the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is “Find Your Trail!” in recognition of two 2018 anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act and the 175th commemoration of the Oregon Trail.
The tree will leave Oregon following the reverse path along the Oregon Trail following stops in Albany, Springfield, McKenzie Bridge, Oakridge, Bend, Detroit, Salem, Oregon City, The Dalles, and Baker City. A series of festive events will be hosted by communities along the way. A complete schedule and list of special events is available at www.capitolchristmastree.com.
The trip to Washington, D.C., is made possible by large and small companies and volunteers locally and across America, including Papé, KGW8, Kenworth Truck Company, Central Oregon Truck Company, SkyBitz, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Hale Trailer, VanDoI Adventure Vans, Alaska Airlines, Husqvarna, Meritor, Pilot Flying J, Truckload Carriers Association, Willamette Valley Visitors Association, Axis Crane, Eaton, Great West Casualty Company, the National Forest Foundation and the City of Sweet Home.
The U.S. Forest Service has provided the Capitol Christmas Tree every year since 1970. In January 2018, the U.S. Forest Service announced that the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree would come from Oregon’s Willamette National Forest. The 80-foot noble fir tree was selected by a representative of the Architect of the Capitol in August. It’s the first time in the program’s 47-year history that a noble fir has been a U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.
The tree will be displayed on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., with a public tree-lighting ceremony in early December. The last time Oregon was chosen to provide the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was in 2002, when a tree was selected from the Umpqua National Forest.
Seventy smaller companion trees will also be sent to Washington, D.C. from the Willamette to decorate government buildings and public spaces. Oregonians have contributed 10,000 handmade ornaments.