Is it time for Christmas already?
11.08.2018

Halloween was last week, and many of us have just finished taking down the decorations, eaten our last “fun-size” treat and (hopefully) put away our costumes. You’ve probably already noticed that all the stores have rolled out their Christmas decorations, and it’s likely you’re thinking this is way too early.

But this year, there’s a really good reason for Oregonians to start thinking about Christmas in early November. That’s because this year, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree comes directly from Oregon’s own Willamette National Forest. This doesn’t happen very often. In fact, the last time the tree came from Oregon was 2002.

On Friday, Nov. 2, I attended the tree-cutting ceremony for the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, along with 50 members of the public. The tree, which is an 80-foot noble fir, was selected by a representative from the Architect of the Capitol. You can read about his experience traveling to Oregon to choose the perfect Christmas tree for the Capitol here. The tree was located in the Sweet Home Ranger District, about 8 miles up a winding and scenic gravel Forest Service road at an elevation of 3,500 feet.

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree cutting ceremony

In typical Oregon fashion for cutting a Christmas tree, the weather was very rainy. But the conditions didn’t dampen the spirits of those gathered to view the tree-cutting, who cheered loudly when the tree was cut and then carefully hoisted onto a custom-fitted flatbed truck.

The Capitol tree is lowered onto a flatbed truck

OFRI is proud to sponsor the U.S. Capitol Tree. In keeping with our mission to advance public understanding of forests, forest management and forest products, we developed an instructional guide for third- and fourth-grade teachers. The guide is designed to help teachers use the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree as a context for investigating why Oregon is such a great place for growing trees. 

The U.S. Capitol Tree is called “The People’s Tree,” and it will be displayed on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol. Starting this week in Sweet Home, it will begin a more than 3,000-mile journey across the United States. The theme of this year’s tree is “Find Your Trail,” which recognizes two anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act and the 175th commemoration of the Oregon Trail.

The tree will follow the reverse path of the Oregon Trail, visiting 25 communities along the way. One of the best ways to keep up to date with the tree’s journey is to follow Sweet Home District Ranger Nikki Swanson’s blog.

It was fun to be a part of the Capitol Tree’s cutting ceremony, and I’m excited to follow the progress of the tree as it makes its way to D.C.

Erin Isselmann

Executive Director    

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