The U.S. Capitol Christmas arrives in DC

Robert Hudson Westover
Office of Communication
November 20th, 2020 at 12:42PM
A picture of the U.S. Capitol in the background and the Capitol Christmas Tree being errected and placed in front.
The Peoples’ Tree is positioned in place on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill. (Photo Credit Tanya Flores, USDA Forest Service)

For 50 years now the arrival of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree has brought enormous excitement to the workers upon whose responsibility it is to deliver the tree across the country and then hoist the towering conifer into place on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill.

In fact, the planning for the arrival of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree started over a year ago. The journey this year began with the USDA Forest Service employees of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, who started their work in earnest as soon as last year’s tree arrived in Washington, D.C.

Planning for the delivery of the Capitol’s Christmas Tree, fondly called the Peoples’ Tree by many, is the responsibility of a different national forest every year. It’s sort of like the passing of the Olympic torch, except this one is over 55 feet high and is illumined by tens of thousands of brilliant LED lights, as well as being adorned with thousands of handmade ornaments from the children of the state of Colorado.

An evening picture of the U.S. Capitol in the background with a glow around it from it's lights and the Capitol Christmas Tree in a horizontal position on the bed of a large truck.
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree arrives in the early morning hours in DC. (USDA Forest Service photo)

As is the tradition every year, the Peoples’ Tree will be handed over to the Office of the Architect of the Capitol. This is because the Architect of the Capitol is ultimately the owner, for lack of a better term, for the tree which is placed every year on the grounds of Capitol Hill just below the gleaming dome of the marble superstructure of the U.S. Capitol building.

Although COVID-19 pandemic precautions altered the normative multistate stops to D.C., the tree’s journey officially began on Nov. 6 when it was harvested on Uncompahgre National Forest. It then traveled to 10 communities for a series of social distancing outdoor festivities hosted by local communities in several states.