4:01pm

Mon November 12, 2012
Arts & Culture

Capitol Christmas Tree Leaves Colorado for 9-State Road Trip

It’s hard to believe, but it’s time to put away the political yard signs and break out the tinsel. After seven days in Colorado, the official Capitol Christmas Tree leaves the state for a cross-country journey tomorrow on its way to Washington.

Exactly what does it take to transport the Capitol Christmas Tree from Colorado to Washington DC?

For five decades the Capitol Christmas Tree has been selected and cut from a National Forest before making its way to Washington D.C. for display. It has its own song, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

2012 marks only the third time it’s come from Colorado. And today’s visit to Greeley marks one of the last stops before the tree moves on to New Mexico.

It was also a chance for people to eat Christmas goodies and sign the white plastic encasing the 73-foot-long tree.

Moving a giant Engelmann Spruce isn’t easy, and it’s exactly as fuel inefficient as you might think.

Blanco District Ranger Ken Coffin said the 20-day road trip that started near Meeker, Colorado, where the tree was cut took months of planning. Transporting it also requires a half dozen support vehicles and an 11-person support crew.

The Capitol Christmas Tree is loaded onto a semi truck near Meeker, Colo.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

“It’s an entourage, I guess is a good way to describe it,” said Coffin.

Coffin said donations are making the trip possible—everything from gasoline to crane service.

“Just to get the tree on the truck, that’s 10,000 to 15,000 worth of crane service donated by Specialized Crane,” he said. “So there’s a bunch of those different sponsors and individuals that came together to make this happen.”

Along the way, the U.S. Forest Service is also promoting the Colorado Forest Restoration Challenge as a way to raise money for rehabilitating the High Park and Waldo Canyon burn zones.

U.S. Forest Service Wildlife Biologist Natasha Goedert said that also means reminding people that even though the fires are gone the work has just started.

“It gives us a chance to go across the country and talk about our national forests, and talk about celebrating our great outdoors,” she said. “That’s an important part of this project.”

The Capitol Christmas tree tour will visit nine more states before arriving in the District of Columbia November 26.