by contributor Megan Podeszwa
While Washingtonians happily showed up to observe the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the West Lawn, a tradition since 1965, folks in Rhode Island were not so thrilled about lighting theirs.
Governor Lincoln Chafee's decision to call the 17 foot spruce in his state a holiday tree rather then a Christmas tree drew ire from constituents, a controversy still under scrutiny.
Meanwhile, back in the Capitol, a 118 year old Sierra White Fur made it’s way across the country from the Stanislaus National Forest in California to Washington, D.C. with various stops along its twenty-day tour across the country. Big cities, small towns and military bases all had various welcoming events before reaching its destination on November 28.
|Courtesy of Mack Pinnacle|
Keeping it clean, the tree made its tour in a holiday decorated truck provided by Mack that ran on clean diesel technology. Carbon offsets were also purchased to offset the carbon emissions of the tour. We're not sure how the dog fared.
Upon arriving in DC, the 63-foot tree was decorated with 10,000 LED Christmas lights and 3,000 ornaments. The ornaments hanging from the tree all exhibit the “California Shines” themes and were created by native California residents.
The night started off with Stephen T. Ayers, Architect of the Capitol, welcoming the nation to the “kick off of the holiday season.”
We heard from California Representative Jeff Denham and California Senator, Dianne Feinstein, very proud to have their state be providing the “People’s Tree” this year.
Summerville High School’s Choir from Tuolumne provided the Christmas carols to get the holiday spirit going.
The time then came for Speaker of the House John Boehner, along with the help of California resident 7 year old Johnny Crawford, to throw the switch and light the Christmas tree. “Christmas is not only some distant historical event it is a spirit always bringing us close to each other...” said Boehner while talking about the importance of the tree and what it represents. He wished the crowd a Merry Christmas on behalf of his family and then, together with Johnny Crawford, threw the switch, illuminating the tree and bringing cheers from the crowd.
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour was made possible through donations from businesses and non-profit organizations.
The tree now lights up the West Lawn of the Capitol will be lit from dusk until 11:00 pm daily until January 1, 2012.
Peace on Earth: