The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree is certainly something worth admiring each year. This year, the 63-foot Sierra White Fir was lit up on December 6th and includes many ornaments that pay homage to President Barack Obama.
Tree Decorating Tradition
The tradition of decorating a tree on the Capital Grounds began in 1964. Until 1968 the tree that was used was actually a live tree that was planted on the Grounds. Since that time, however, the tree has been one that is cut down and brought to the Capitol. Since 1970, the U.S. Forest Service has had the job of bringing the tree to the Capitol.
Whichever state is in charge of sending the tree that year is also given the task of choosing the theme for the ornaments. This year’s tree has arrived from the Stanislaus National Forest in Tuolumne County, California. The theme they picked for this year’s ornaments was “California Shines.”
As the tree’s official website reports,
“Ornaments should be designed to reflect our theme ‘California Shines’ by showing how the rich cultural and ecological diversity of this state make it shine. From the Pacific Ocean to the sparkling deserts, from the high mountain peaks to its forests, rivers and abundant Central Valley, the diversity of nature and the people who live here are what make the great state of California shine.”
Encouraging School Participation
The website encourages schools and after-school programs to submit ornaments. The website also made some environmental lesson plans that teachers might want to use to help kids to create appropriate ornaments. They encourage school groups to make ornaments from natural or recycled materials and to discuss recycling and green topics as they create the ornaments.
Ornaments on the tree at the moment depict Disneyland, Hollywood, the Lakers, the Dodgers and others.