The brightest gem in Washington isn’t the Hope Diamond it’s the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Robert Hudson Westover
Office of Communication, U.S. Forest Service
December 7th, 2016 at 11:45AM

A photo of Isabella Gerard accompanied by Speaker of the House Paul lighting the 2016 peoples tree
Caption: Isabella Gerard accompanied by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) performs her winning poem from Senator Crapo's Contest before the lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington DC, Dec. 6, 2016. (U.S. Forest Service photo by Cecilio Ricardo)

The American public doesn’t have to sneak a peek at the Christmas present the U.S. Forest Service has given them this year because it’s on full display just below the U.S. Capitol dome on the building’s West Lawn.

A gift from the Forest Service’s Payette National Forest, this year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, aptly titled “An Idaho Mountain Gem”, was twinkling like a million facets of a bejeweled royal scepter after Isabella Gerard, a fifth grader from Boise, Idaho, who was chosen to do this honor by winning an poem contest, flipped the switch to illume the great tree.

The Engelmann spruce, towers nearly 80 feet, and is adorned with yet more gifts…thousands and thousands of handmade ornaments children from all over Idaho lovingly crafted for the tree that will be seen by millions this season and will be forever commemorated in pictures, news stories and videos.

As is the tradition for over 50 years, the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker, Paul Ryan last night, presided over the lighting and reminded those gathered that he "couldn't feel more hopeful about our country than I do tonight."

"I just don’t mean that I’m optimistic, though I certainly am," Ryan said. "What I mean is, to see so many people work so hard for so long just to give our Capitol some Christmas cheer – well, it’s nothing short of inspiring.”