The basics on the Capitol Hill Christmas Tree (and a list of past trees): https://www.aoc.gov/what-we-do/programs-ceremonies/capitol-christmas-tree
In 1964, House Speaker John W. McCormack suggested to J. George Stewart, Architect of the Capitol, that a Christmas tree be placed on the U.S. Capitol grounds. A live 24-foot Douglas fir was purchased for $700 from Buddies Nurseries of Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, and was planted on the West Front lawn. Each year through 1967 this tree was decorated and a tree-lighting ceremony was held.
Unfortunately, a combination of factors, including a severe wind storm in the spring of 1967 and root damage, caused the tree to die in 1968; it was removed in the same year. The 1968 Christmas tree was made from two white pines from Finksburg, Maryland, and was 30 feet tall; the 1969 tree was a 40-foot white pine from Westminster, Maryland. The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service has provided the trees since 1970.
A sweet read from the tree’s beginning to end: A Colorado Spruce’s Journey To Becoming The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree
Usually, someone from the Architect of the Capitol’s office flies out from Washington to review all the towering finalists in person — the nation’s national forests take turns providing the tree — but this year was different because of the pandemic.
It was more like online dating.
Photos and videos were exchanged profiling the finalists. And the final pick was made over video chat — a statuesque, 55-foot Engelmann spruce that the rangers called the Beaver Dam tree. It was located in rough terrain about an hour from Montrose, far from just about everything except other trees.
Capitol Christmas Tree criteria: READ HERE
Bechtol considers many criteria when selecting the Capitol Christmas Tree. The ideal tree is 60 to 90 feet tall. It must be healthy, have good growth and density, and be rich in color. The tree must be straight and perfectly conical in shape.
“It is positioned out in the open of the Capitol’s West Front lawn, visible from 360 degrees,” says Bechtol. “Unlike at home, you cannot hide the bad side of the tree in the corner of a room.”
Companion Trees Fact-check:
The rest will be distributed — along with about 70 regular-sized companion Christmas trees from Colorado — to congressional and federal offices. GOP Rep. Ken Buck’s office received one of the trees, as well as ornaments and a handmade tree skirt. https://www.cpr.org/2020/12/03/a-colorado-spruces-journey-to-becoming-the-u-s-capitol-christmas-tree/
Additionally, tree growers from Northwest Oregon donated 75 smaller companion trees to adorn government office buildings in the Nation’s Capital.
Another big difference is the ornaments. The White House’s National Christmas Tree has a series of handmade ornaments representing each state created by artists selected for the honor. However, the U.S. Capitol tree’s decorations, also all handmade, are created by hundreds of kids from the state hosting it, thus giving it the nickname the People’s Tree.
Perhaps the Christmas spirit will lead to a COVID-19 more agreement in Congress – Here’s a list of all the items they need to take care of before the end of the year.