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U.S. Capitol Christmas tree begins tour across Colorado to Washington, D.C.

The Engelmann spruce will stop at Bass Pro Shops in Denver on Saturday, Nov. 14 for a public viewing.

DENVER — The 2020 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree harvested from western Colorado will begin a nationwide tour this week on its way to Washington, D.C.

The tree begins its tour Tuesday in western Colorado with stops planned in Ouray, Grand Junction, Paonia, Gunnison, Salida, Denver and Burlington.

The 55-foot tall, 25-foot wide Engelmann spruce, which was harvested last Thursday from the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests near Delta, will arrive at the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building on Friday, Nov. 20.

The tree will stop in Denver from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Bass Pro Shops at Northfield Stapleton. The free event will be a socially distanced drive-by experience. Face coverings are required.

2020 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour

Tuesday, Nov. 10 

  • 10 to 11:30 a.m.:
    San Miguel County Fairgrounds in Norwood, Colo.
  • Viewing opportunity: Tree will pass through Ridgway for an opportunity to see the motorcade between 12:30 and 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 11

  • 9:30 to 11 a.m.:
    Ouray County Courthouse in Ouray, Colo.
  • Viewing opportunity: Tree will pass through Montrose for an opportunity to see the motorcade between 12:15 and 12:45 p.m.
  • Viewing opportunity: Tree will pass through Delta for an opportunity to see the motorcade between 1:15 and 1:45 p.m. 
  • 5 to 7 p.m.:
    Grand Junction Convention Center (drive-by viewing)

Thursday, Nov. 12

  • 10 to 11:30 a.m.:
    Downtown Paonia, Colo.
  • Viewing opportunity: The tree will pass through Hotchkiss for an opportunity to see the motorcade between noon and 12:30 p.m.
  • 2 to 4:30 p.m.:
    Gunnison Community School in Gunnison, Colo.

Friday, Nov. 13

  • 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
    Salida High School (drive-by viewing) 

Saturday, Nov. 14

  • 3 to 5 p.m.:
    Bass Pro Shops at Northfield Stapleton in Denver (drive-by viewing)

Sunday, Nov. 15 

  • 11 a.m. — 1 p.m.:
    Kit Carson County Fairgrounds in Burlington, Colo. (drive-by viewing)

Tuesday, Nov. 17

  • 3 to 6 p.m. ET:
    Asheville Outlets in Asheville, NC.

Friday, Nov. 20

  • Delivery to West Lawn, U.S. Capitol Building

You can follow the tree's journey at CapitolTreeTracker.com and learn more about the tree's history at USCapitolChristmasTree.com.

A virtual cutting ceremony took place Nov. 5 at the GMUG National Forests. The ceremony included brief remarks by U.S. Forest Service leadership, local elected officials and project partners. After being cut, the Engelmann spruce was lifted by cranes, wrapped and secured to a trailer to begin its journey to Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Forest Service said the U.S. Capitol Grounds and Arboretum team will secure and decorate the tree with thousands of handcrafted ornaments from the people of Colorado.

The tree will be lit in early December.

Credit: U.S. Forest Service

“I’m thrilled that one of Colorado’s magnificent Engelmann spruce is heading to Washington, D.C., to represent our state at the U.S. Capitol during the holidays this year,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in July. “Coloradans are proud of our state’s natural beauty, forests, and incredible outdoor spaces, and I’m glad the rest of the country will be able to see a small piece of the majesty that Colorado offers. While this is a difficult time for people across our state and across the country, I hope that Colorado’s contribution to the national Christmas spirit can help bring us all together.”

“The challenge in selecting a tree for the West Lawn is making sure it is symmetrical, full and in the perfect scale to gracefully adorn the U.S. Capitol," said Jim Kaufmann, director of Capitol Grounds and Arboretum for the Architect of the Capitol in September. "In a normal year, we scour the forest for this special tree. Due to the pandemic, we used videos, pictures and measurements supplied by the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests to identify a suitable Engelmann Spruce that all Coloradoans can be proud of."

“This year’s tree selection was a little nonconventional, but we are very excited to have the tree selected and look forward to the next phase of the project, planning the tree cutting ceremony,” said Chad Stewart, supervisor of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) Forest.

> Video below: Colorado officials discuss the Colorado tree selected as U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in September 2020.

“We sincerely hope the gift of this towering tree from Colorado for the Capitol lawn helps inspire deep pride in America the Beautiful and happiness throughout the holidays, while showcasing the splendor of Colorado’s Mountains and Mesas region," said Colorado Tourism Director Cathy Ritter.

The U.S. Capitol tree last came from western Colorado in 2012. That tree was a 73-foot Engelmann spruce from the White River National Forest, east of Meeker.

The 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree was a 60-foot blue spruce cut from the Carson National Forest outside of Taos, New Mexico.

"We are just so excited and what a great honor for Colorado to be able to help the entire nation celebrate the holiday spirit," Polis said.

   

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