By Emilie Brouse
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This year’s Christmas tree for the U.S. Capitol Tour arrived from Chippewa National Forest on Thursday, October 30. It was stored and prepared for the tour at Bemidji State’s John Glas Fieldhouse. It was sent on its journey to the U.S. Capitol on Monday, November 3. The tree’s sendoff was scheduled for clubs, organizations, schools and business throughout the Bemidji community to take part in, complete with helicopters and a marching band.
Preparation of the tree took place in numerous eight-hour shifts with the help of more than a dozen U.S. Forestry Service workers, BSU student volunteers, security staff, and the Public Affairs Officer and spokesperson for “Tree to D.C.,” Mike Theune. The over 80-foot Spruce had been strapped with parachute cord and winch hoists to its 105-foot customized trailer, and bundled behind a semi with graphic imagery of the tree and Capitol on its side. Forestry Service crews from as far as Missouri, Maine, and West Virginia are following behind the truck for the entire month-long tour to ensure its safety. Many branches near the tree’s base were removed for space, but will be replaced again once it arrives on Capitol grounds.
The tree’s truck driver is an associate of Willie Transport, Inc. — a reliable truckload carrier serving customers in both the United States and Canada from coast to coast. This driver is an expert that has been driving since 1949. He and his co-pilot wife are travelling with the tree all the way across the country together. The two came out of retirement just for the occasion.
Leah Novak, a junior at Bemidji State, assisted in the tree’s preparation with three other volunteers from the Criminal Justice Club. The team helped to enclose the entirety of the tree in plywood to ensure protection. They also situated an “enclosed bladder” system around its base that has been specially designed for holding many gallons of water to maintain the tree’s vitality over the course of its journey.
“They know what they’re doing,” Novak said in reference to the tree’s preparation team. She also stated that she’s especially excited because she has relatives that reside in Washington, D.C., and is hoping they will send a picture of the Capitol Christmas tree once it out for national display.
The Capitol Christmas Tree Tour:
- Itasca State Park (Nov. 2nd), Bemidji (Nov. 2nd)
- MN’s northland, including Cass Lake, Blackduck, Deer River and Grand Rapids (Nov. 4th and 5th)
- Duluth (Nov 5th)
- Twin Cities (Nov. 6th)
- Rochester and Red Wing (Nov. 7th)
- Owatonna and Fort Snelling (Nov. 8th)
- Madison and Milwaukee, WI (Nov. 11th-12th)
- Wilmington and Elwood, IL (Nov. 12th)
- Grand Rapids and Dearborn, MI (Nov. 13th and 15th)
- Cleveland and Chillicothe, OH (Nov. 16th)
- Charleston, WV (Nov. 17th)
- Marietta, OH (Nov. 18th)
- Wheeling, WV (Nov. 18th)
- Andrews Air Force Base, MD (Nov. 20th)
- S. Capitol (Nov. 21st)