Often called the "People's Tree," this year's tree is an 85-foot blue spruce from the two million-acre Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. This is Arizona's first Capitol Christmas tree and at 125 years old, it is older than state itself.
At the official lighting ceremony in December, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a selected Arizonan student will officially flip the switch to illuminate the tree, which will feature thousands of decorations created by the state's students. Others scheduled to be on hand for the lighting include Arizona's senators, Republicans John McCain and Jon Kyl, along with other members of its congressional delegation and Gov. Jan Brewer.
Every year since 1964, the Capitol complex has hosted a Christmas tree. Superintendent of Capitol Grounds Ted Bechtel traveled to Arizona this year and selected this tree from around 12 candidates based on its form.
"It had great color, great conical shape. You've got to remember that the tree is going to sit on an open lawn area on the Capitol, so you're going to see if it from every angle, Bechtel said. "You always make notation of what looks good. I've got my own rating system."
When asked if he could detail the rating system, he smiled and said, "No. No, I'm sorry, trade secret."
Info about the tree has been available on Facebook and Twitter. And at TracktheTree.com, interested parties have been able to follow the tree's 24-city, multi-state route and read blog entries on some of the stops.
Arriving with the tree were nearly 80 companion trees that will decorate offices and agencies around the Capitol Complex. After the holiday it will be recycled and used as mulch on the Capitol grounds.