Feature

‘The People’s Tree’ Lights up the Capitol

Imani Lester
Office of Communication
December 5th, 2019 at 11:55AM
The U.S. Army Brass Quintet performs in front of the adorned U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.
The U.S. Army Brass Quintet performs in front of the adorned U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. Photo by Tanya Flores, Office of Communications

A special gift from the Carson National Forest has successfully completed its cross-country journey to Washington, D.C.

Harvested on Nov. 6, 2019, the massive 60-foot blue spruce, known affectionately as the “People’s Tree,” traveled over 2,000 miles and stopped for celebrations in 25 communities before arriving at the U.S. Capitol in late November. Today, the tree stands on the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building and is decorated with thousands of handcrafted ornaments made by school children from the state of New Mexico.

The tree was lit Wednesday evening by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi during a public tree lighting ceremony on the West Front Lawn.

Season 15 winner of the Voice, Chevel Shephard, kicked off the Christmas spirit with a traditional melody, followed by the U.S. Army Brass Quintet and remarks from the New Mexico Delegation, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, and USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.

“This tree embodies the spirit of unity. It reminds us that even in a nation as diverse as the United States, we are one people” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.

The tree will be lit from nightfall until 11 p.m. each evening through Jan. 1, 2020.

The “People’s Tree” lights up the U.S. Capitol.
The “People’s Tree” lights up the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Tanya Flores, Office of Communications

History of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

The annual lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is an honored tradition of more than 50 years. In fact, the “People’s Tree” dates back to 1964 when Architect of the Capitol J. George Stewart, at the suggestion of the Speaker of the House John W. McCormack, established the yearly tradition of decorating a tree on the West Front Lawn. Since 1970, the USDA Forest Service has provided the trees. Each year a different national forest has been invited to provide “The People’s Tree” to celebrate the holidays. The Forest Service also works with state forests to provide smaller companion trees for offices in Washington, D.C.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/features/peoples-tree-lights-capitol