WASHINGTON — Fourteen days and 1,800 miles later, the Capitol Christmas tree has arrived in Washington — all the way from New Mexico.
Each year the Capitol architect asks one of the national forests to provide the tree. This year, it’s the Carson National Forest in New Mexico, where Ricardo Martinez is the deputy district ranger.
“We identified 12 candidate trees, and in July the actual director of the Capitol grounds comes out and reviews the candidates that we identify. And this is the one that he selected,” Martinez said.
The winning tree is a 60-foot-tall, 21-foot-wide blue spruce. On Monday, a team carefully planted the tree on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Led — of course — by Santa Claus.
Martinez said the tree will be decorated with over 11,000 ornaments — all handmade by people in New Mexico. And the giant skirt that will sit under the tree was also stitched in the land of enchantment.
“I feel like this is truly the people’s tree,” Martinez said. “That there is the hands of thousands of New Mexicans on this tree.”
And it will all be ready for the big reveal next Wednesday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will light the tree in a ceremony on the Capitol lawn — a tradition that began more than 50 years ago.
The White House Christmas tree also arrived in D.C. on Monday. First Lady Melania Trump was on hand to accept the tree.
The 18-and-a-half foot tall Douglas fir will stand in the Blue Room of the White House. A chandelier will have to be removed from the room to accommodate the tree.
Students from 56 schools across the country made ornaments that will hang on the White House Christmas tree. They represent all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and five U.S. territories.
Students from Carthage High School in Carthage, Missouri, filled two dozen clear ornaments to send to D.C. Each ornament has a tiny sculpture representing something in the Show-Me State.
The artists said they were honored to be a part of the tradition.
"It's a really cool opportunity to be able to have ours, something we made just from a small town in Missouri going to the White House," said Molly Long, a junior at Carthage High School.
Others said they were excited to add something they think is important to the tree.
"I like to be politically engaged so anything to do with politics or government, I'm all for it. So I try to connect that side of my personality with art. So I decided to do the Missouri state capitol building," said Abraham Figueroa, a senior at Carthage High School.
High schoolers from Cheney High School in Cheney, Kansas, decided to add a Kansas sunflower to each ornament they created to represent the Sunflower State on the this year.