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Colorado spruce that will serve as U.S. Capitol Christmas tree cut Thursday

A tree cutting ceremony took place Nov. 5.

DELTA, Colo. — After over a year of planning, the 2020 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was harvested in Colorado on Thursday, Nov. 5.

The perfect 55-foot tall, 25-foot wide Engelmann spruce was selected from the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests near Delta from a candidate pool of 10 Colorado trees.

A virtual cutting ceremony took place Thursday from the GMUG National Forests. The ceremony included brief remarks by U.S. Forest Service leadership, local elected officials and project partners. 

You can watch the full ceremony below:

After being cut, the Engelmann spruce was lifted by cranes, wrapped and secured to a trailer to begin a journey to Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Forest Service said the tree will visit 10 communities for a series of outdoor festivities hosted by local communities at fair grounds, schools, main streets, visitor centers, convention centers and retailers. Well-wishers on the cross-country journey will have a chance to take photos, sign banners on the sides of the truck, learn more about the GMUG National Forests and the state of Colorado and more.

The U.S. Forest Service said the U.S. Capitol Grounds and Arboretum team will secure and decorate the tree with thousands of handcrafted ornaments from the people of Colorado.

The tree will be lit in early December 2020.

You can follow the tree's journey and learn more about the Capitol Christmas Tree at USCapitolChristmasTree.com.

Credit: U.S. Forest Service

“I’m thrilled that one of Colorado’s magnificent Engelmann spruce is heading to Washington, D.C. to represent our state at the U.S. Capitol during the holidays this year,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, in July. “Coloradans are proud of our state’s natural beauty, forests, and incredible outdoor spaces, and I’m glad the rest of the country will be able to see a small piece of the majesty that Colorado offers. While this is a difficult time for people across our state and across the country, I hope that Colorado’s contribution to the national Christmas spirit can help bring us all together.”

“The challenge in selecting a tree for the West Lawn is making sure it is symmetrical, full and in the perfect scale to gracefully adorn the U.S. Capitol," said Jim Kaufmann, Director of Capitol Grounds and Arboretum for the Architect of the Capitol in September. "In a normal year, we scour the forest for this special tree. Due to the pandemic, we used videos, pictures and measurements supplied by the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests to identify a suitable Engelmann Spruce that all Coloradoans can be proud of."

“This year’s tree selection was a little nonconventional, but we are very excited to have the tree selected and look forward to the next phase of the project, planning the tree cutting ceremony,” said Chad Stewart, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) Forest Supervisor.

> Video below: Colorado officials discuss the Colorado tree selected as U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in September 2020.

“We sincerely hope the gift of this towering tree from Colorado for the Capitol lawn helps inspire deep pride in America the Beautiful and happiness throughout the holidays, while showcasing the splendor of Colorado’s Mountains and Mesas region," said Colorado Tourism Director Cathy Ritter.

The U.S. Capitol tree last came from western Colorado in 2012. That tree was a 73-foot Engelmann spruce from the White River National Forest, east of Meeker.

The 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree was a 60-foot blue spruce cut from the Carson National Forest outside of Taos, New Mexico.

"We are just so excited, and what a great honor for Colorado to be able to help the entire nation celebrate the holiday spirit," Polis said.

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