New Mexico's holiday gift to the nation completed its journey to Washington D.C. earlier this month when the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, harvested from the Carson National Forest near Red River, arrived on the West Lawn to spend the holiday season.
Harvested on Nov. 6, 2019, the massive 60-foot blue spruce, known affectionately as the “People’s Tree,” traveled over 2,000 miles and stopped for celebrations in 25 communities before arriving at the U.S. Capitol in late November. Today, the tree stands on the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building and is decorated with nearly 10,000 handcrafted ornaments made by New Mexicans.
The tree was officially lit on Wednesday, Dec. 4, by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi during a public tree lighting ceremony on the West Front Lawn. The tree lighting ceremony concluded a multi-day celebration where New Mexican pride was on full display.
Season 15 winner of The Voice, Chevel Shephard, kicked off the Christmas spirit with a traditional melody, followed by the U.S. Army Brass Quintet and remarks from the New Mexico Delegation, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, and USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.
The tree will be lit from nightfall until 11 p.m. each evening through Jan. 1, 2020.
The annual lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is an honored tradition of more than 50 years. In fact, the “People’s Tree” dates back to 1964 when Architect of the Capitol J. George Stewart, at the suggestion of the Speaker of the House John W. McCormack, established the yearly tradition of decorating a tree on the West Front Lawn. Since 1970, the USDA Forest Service has provided the trees. Each year a different national forest has been invited to provide “The People’s Tree” to celebrate the holidays. The Forest Service also works with state forests to provide smaller companion trees for offices in Washington, D.C.