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U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to be lit Tuesday

CHARLESTON — West Virginians can admire a product of the state being lit up on Tuesday as the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

The 63-foot Norway Spruce came from the Monongahela National Forest and was carried on a specially equipped tractor-trailer to be displayed in communities around West Virginia before reaching its ultimate destination at the U.S. Capitol.

The lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, a time-honored tradition of more than 50 years, will occur during a 5 p.m. Tuesday ceremony on the West Front Lawn.

West Virginia’s congressional delegation will gather for the ceremony. The Richwood High School Marching Band has been invited to participate in the tree-lighting ceremony as well to represent the Mountain State.

Following the ceremony, the Christmas tree will then be lit from dusk until 11 p.m. each evening through New Year’s Day. Visiting the tree is free and open to the public. No ticket is required.

This is the third time West Virginia and the Monongahela National Forest has provided the U.S Capitol Christmas Tree, which is cut on a different National Forest every year somewhere in the country.

West Virginia provided the trees in 1970, which was the first time the Forest Service provided the tree, and again in 1976.

The Capitol Christmas Tree is being decorated with 5,000 ornaments by hundreds of kids and volunteers from West Virginia, its home state, so it is nicknamed The People’s Tree.

Meanwhile, West Virginia is supplying another Christmas tree for the White House, too.

That happened when the Monongahela National Forest got a call from the headquarters in Washington asking for help. The White House Christmas Tree, which is a permanent tree on the White House Ellipse, had died of a disease. So, a replacement was needed.

The 42-foot Tucker County tree had been considered as an option for the U.S. Capitol but was rejected for being too short. But it was a great option for the White House.

So for the first time in history, West Virginia has provided both the Capitol Christmas Tree and the White House Christmas tree in the same year.

“Let me tell you one thing, we got two of them coming from our national forest — the national Christmas tree and the one for the White House,” U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said last week on “Panhandle Live” on WEPM Radio.

“They came right back to West Virginia to do both of them, so we’re lighting up the whole Christmas for the Capitol if you will. I’m excited. I’m really excited about that.”