Events 12/11/2018 04:09 PM

November 16, 2017

Tour of the Capital Christmas Tree

Once again the Capital Christmas tree will be touring through Great Falls! The public is invited to join us in celebrating at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center Thursday, Nov. 16 from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Festivities include: tree viewing, signing the banner on the truck, four local music groups singing carols in the outdoor amphitheater, and hot chocolate. Christmas tree permits will also be available to purchase during the event. Perishable food items will be collected on behalf of the Great Falls Food Bank in preparation for the heavy need around the holidays.

The last time the Capital Christmas Tree was selected from Montana was 2008 and over 1,000 people visited the Center to view the tree and sign the banner. The 2017 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be provided by Montana's Kootenai National Forest, in partnership with the not-for-profit Choose Outdoors. The 79 foot tall Englemann Spruce will be cut on Wednesday, November 8 and prepared for the more than 3,000-mile expedition, which includes a series of community celebrations and culminates with the official tree lighting in early December.
The tree will make special appearances at whistle stops including:

Monday, Nov. 13: Eureka, MT; Whitefish, MT
Tuesday, Nov. 14: Libby, MT; Troy, MT; and Trout Creek, MT
Wednesday, Nov. 15: Thompson Falls, MT; Missoula, MT
Thursday, Nov. 16: Helena, MT; and Great Falls, MT
Friday, Nov. 17: Harlem (Fort Belknap), MT; and Glasgow, MT
Saturday, Nov. 18: Glendive, MT; and Dickinson, ND
Sunday, Nov 19: Grand Forks, ND; and Browns Valley, MN
Monday, Nov 20: Kansas City, MO
Tuesday, Nov. 21: Springfield, MO
Wednesday, Nov. 22: Poplar Bluff, MO; and Paducah, KY
Sunday, Nov. 26: Joint Base Andrews
Monday, Nov. 27: Deliver to U.S. Capitol

The annual tradition of the Capital Christmas Tree began in 1964, when the House Speaker John W. McCormack suggested to J. George Stewart, Architect of the Capitol, that a Christmas tree be placed on the Capitol Grounds. A live 24-foot Douglas fir was purchased for $700 from Buddies Nurseries of Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, and was planted on the West Front lawn. Each year through 1967 this tree was decorated and a tree-lighting ceremony was held.

Unfortunately, a combination of factors, including a severe wind storm in the spring of 1967 and root damage, caused the tree to die in 1968; it was removed in the same year. The 1968 Christmas tree was made from two white pines from Finksburg, Maryland, and was 30 feet tall; the 1969 tree was a 40-foot white pine from Westminster, Maryland. The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service has provided the trees since 1970.

A celebration to begin the journey for the Capitol Christmas Tree is Tuesday, Nov. 7th, 2:00 p.m. at the Upper Ford Historic Ranger Station near Yaak, MT.

Kootenai National Forest also is supplying 74 companion trees that will go into offices of the Forest Service, Secretary of Agriculture and the Interior Department. Residents of Montana have crafted 12,090 ornaments that will accompany those trees. In addition, Montana quilters have made tree skirts for the trees.

For more information:
Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (406) 727-8733.
To track the tree cross-country, click here
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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