November 30th, 2009
02:23 PM ET
13 years ago

Capitol Christmas tree arrives on the Hill

(CNN) - The Architect of the Capitol's office braved a light rain this morning to welcome and place the 2009 Capitol Christmas tree.

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, 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.

Filed under: Capitol
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. chubby

    This is about as interesting as the marriage of a clinton. Boring.

    November 30, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. Jennifer

    I don't mean to be a tree hugger when I say this, but wouldn't a 125 year old tree be better left alive, especially if its older than the state and from a national forest? What makes the government so special that they can chop down a tree from a national forest? But whatever I guess tradition outweighs conservation when it comes to Christmas and the spirit of giving, not taking (from a national forest).

    November 30, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Way to go Arizona. Find something as beautiful as a tree that has survived 125 years and kill it.

    November 30, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair

    Hmmmm.... "Christmas" tree? Shouldn't it be called a "holiday" tree? 125 years old and killed for man's folly? It can't be recycled, you know. I wonder how many birds were displaced because of this? Not to mention the carbon footprint double whammy – not only will the lighting cause an increase in greenhouse gasses, but now there's one lett tree to absorb the CO2...

    Awful lot of politically incorrect in this whole escapade...

    November 30, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  5. Embarassed Democrat

    At a time when so many Americans are out of work and so many Americans are losing their homes to foreclosure, the White House wants to boast about the ungodly large Christmas Trees it has in Washington. Obama, you got the idea of being President all backwards.

    November 30, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. Jane/Seattle

    I'm sure all of the children doing without, due to all the great help for Main Street, will be Overjoyed!

    November 30, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. Texas Longhorn talks Truth

    They better remember it is a Christmas TREE, for "Jesus Christ's birth.' and not a muslim tree or an ACLU token of demonship. 'IN GOD WE TRUST'.

    November 30, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  8. No one famous

    How sad. The tree has lived for 125 years and was cut down only to be decorated for a few weeks. In an age where we are arguing global warming and the effects of deforestation I think we should be ashamed. And no, I am not a scrouge. This tree died for nothing.

    November 30, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. George Schmitz

    Was that tree invited? Better double check!

    November 30, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  10. Manny - Miami, FL

    WHy don't they just plant a majestic spruce on a permanent basis and stop cutting down these majestic giants on a yearly basis?

    November 30, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. southerncousin

    Nothing but the very best for our liberal Congress, they have been very successful in stealing more of our money this year because in the arrogant, elitist manner, they know how to spend it so much better than me, just like their hero, Obama the one term wonder. I can't afford a Christmas tree or presents this year, thanks Obama and the liberals.

    November 30, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  12. vwrtb

    80% of doctors are not AMA... Of those 75% support a public option...

    November 30, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Rickster

    What's the size of the carbon footprint left behind by cutting, shipping, erecting and lighting all of those trees? Mr. "Do As I Say Not As I Do" Barry at it once again.

    November 30, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. ALZ

    It's perfect, it's 125 years old, so by all means let's kill it! What a waste.

    November 30, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. sue

    Am I the only one that feels its such a waste to kill a 125 year old tree in order for it to stand around for a month to look nice – If we are to be a "green" nation, why don't we try plant a tree on the White House lawn and each decorate it and document how much it has grown from year to year.

    November 30, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  16. Pee Wee

    I'd love to see the budget for this display. In tough times and growing government, this would certainly be a high-profile target for a budget cut.

    Since we really don't want to celebrate Christmas in this country anymore (for fear of offending someone) why not take up a collection in the House, Senate, and Administration to pay for this and give the taxpayers a break?

    I'd bet from the selection, cutting, transport and setup this is probably well over a million bucks. And for what?

    November 30, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. Marc

    I find this a little insane to kill a big tree just for that. Why don't they just grow one and keep reusing it every year?

    November 30, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  18. Dar

    Thank you CNN for calling it a Christmas Tree, God Bless

    November 30, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. SocialismBad

    Everybody knows there is no such thing as a "Christmas tree". It's a "Holiday tree" right? We must all be politically correct lest we offend the loons among us.

    November 30, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. barbara

    I wish I could see the confusion on the first daughters' faces when they are told that this year mommy and daddy decided to give them Christmas gifts! Can we get somebody to get a video of the girls saying "huh? you never give us Christmas gifts because uh why was that again daddy?". I recall Obama stating loud and clear that the girls do NOT get Christmas gifts. They only get gifts on their birthday and on some other holiday. Cant wait for some cable show to show Obama declaring his feelings about this. But I do not expect many to remember this. I asked a coworker and she said she wasnt even aware that the family doesnt celebrate Christmas traditionally. Well I guess she had other reasons for voting for him.

    November 30, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |