The ‘people’s tree’ shines again over Capitol Hill

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On a brisk night in the nation’s capital, lawmakers took a break from political debates and squabbles to get into the holiday spirit. On Tuesday evening, the Capitol Hill Christmas tree was lit, continuing a more than 50-year tradition.

What you need to know

  • The Capitol Hill Christmas tree was lit on Tuesday night, the latest event in a tradition that dates back five decades.
  • This year’s edition of the “People’s Tree” is a 63-foot-tall Norway spruce, selected from the Greenbrier Ranger District in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest.
  • More than 5,000 ornaments and about 5,000 LEDs decorate the tree.
  • Speaker Mike Johnson said the tree represents what makes America great.

A 63-foot Norway spruce was selected from the Greenbrier Ranger District in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest. It was decorated with more than 5,000 ornaments and approximately 5,000 multi-colored LEDs.

Members of Congress have a number of pressing issues to deal with in the coming months, from the need for government funding to the debate over increased aid to Ukraine and Israel. But on this cold November night, everyone was celebrating the joy of the season.

“This tree represents so much of what makes America great,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said.

Various West Virginia lawmakers spoke at Tuesday’s event, including Sen. Joe Manchi, who made headlines earlier this month when he announced he would not run for re-election in 2024.

“We gather around the people’s tree. “A symbol of our country’s strength, resilience and opportunity. Let’s come together in the spirit of the People’s Tree and bring these principles of patriotism into the new year.

The first U.S. Capitol Christmas tree was placed in 1964. Since then, 37 spruce trees, 21 firs, and two firs have been selected, according to the Capitol Architect. After being picked in West Virginia, this tree was trucked to DC, making about 25 community stops.

Not only lawmakers took the stage on Tuesday. Ethan Reese, a fourth-grader from West Virginia, had the honor of winning the 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Essay Contest. Ethan’s essay was selected from over 400 different entries.

The ceremony also included a performance by the Richwood High School band known as the “Lumberjack Express.” Richwood is not far from the Monongahela National Forest, where the tree was harvested.

The tree will be lit from dusk to 11 pm until January 1, 2024.

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