The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree has begun its multi-stop tour to Washington, DC.
A group gathered during the early morning hours to see the cutting of the 99-foot Sierra White Fir, located on Clark Fork Road off Highway 108 (Eight miles west of Kennedy Meadows). Up until the last minute, its location was withheld, so only the media and a list of dignitaries were on hand. Everyone was bundled up because the temperature was in the teens.
“It’s just the way a Christmas Tree should look, with the 15 degree temperature, fresh snow, and mostly sunny skies,” said Susan Skalski, Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor. “It is very exciting, and we are so glad to finally be at this day. Many of us have been losing sleep of late getting everything put together, but to see the tree off its stump and being positioned on the truck, it doesn’t get any better than this.”
The tree itself was selected by Ted Bechtol, the Superintendent for the U.S. Capitol Grounds in Washington, DC. A tough task, considering that there are millions of trees in the Stanislaus National Forest. He selected the Clark Fork Road tree from shortened list of finalists.
“There are millions of trees out here, but not that many perfect trees like this one,” said Maria Benech, project coordinator. “It was narrowed down to the final 15, and this is the one that was selected.”
The tree was cut down at around 9:30am and then loaded onto a flatbed truck. From there it went to Pinecrest School and eventually started its journey to downtown Sonora for a 3pm parade. Activities have been taking place at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds throughout the day in anticipation of its arrival. Activities will continue into the evening and the community is invited to attend.
Among the group on hand for the cutting were Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Joe Silva, Sonora Mayor Bill Canning, Sonora City Administrator Tim Miller, Calaveras County Supervisor Merita Callaway, and Tuolumne County Supervisors Randy Hanvelt, Dick Pland and Evan Royce.
Tribe elders from the Tuolumne Band of Me Wuk Indians were also in attendance for a blessing of the tree. The video posted in the upper left hand corner shows the blessing. To view the actual cut, click here.
The project committee has been working to raise over $300,000 to cover the costs of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. Forest Supervisor Skalski said they had not reached that amount as of Saturday morning, but was optimistic they will soon reach their goal. The event at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds is free of charge, but they are still raising money through various onsite fundraisers.
Before arriving in Washington, DC, the tree will also be on display at the following locations:
08-Nov | Oakdale 11am – 3:30 pm G St near Yosemite Ave
08-Nov | Manteca 5:30pm – 7pm opening comments 5:45 Yosemite
and Manteca Avenue (Library Park)
09-Nov | Sacramento 1pm to 6pm Capitol Bldg
10-Nov | Modesto, 10:30-12:30 p.m., near Modesto Centre Plaza on 11th Street
between K and L Streets
10-Nov | Merced 4:00-6:00 Main Street and Canal (Bob Hart Square)
11-Nov | Fresno 11am Downtown Fresno parade
11-Nov | Central California Children’s Hospital 1:30 pm – 3 pm Madera
at Hospital SNF firetruck/Smokey
11-Nov | Kingsburg 5pm – 7pm
12-Nov | Santa Clarita 10am – 3pm Saugus Swap meet, 22500 Soledad Canyon Rd.
13-Nov | Los Angeles 11am – 5pm Autry Center
14-Nov | Rancho Cucamonga 10am – 2pm Victory Gardens – Mall
14-Nov | Barstow 5pm – 7pm unknown
15-Nov | Flagstaff, AZ
16-Nov | Gallup, NM 1:00-5:00 Cultural Center Parking – Railroad Museum
17-Nov | Santa Fe, NM Santa Fe Place Mall
18-Nov | Amarillo, TX 330 Downtown Library 413 E. 4th Ave
19-Nov | Tinker AFB, OK 2:30-6:00 on base – call Kathy 30 min out –
enter at Truck gate 33
20-Nov | Ft. Leonard Wood, MO 2pm – 5pm PX at Constitution and Replacement
21-Nov | Santa Claus, IN Cringle Place Shopping Center
23-Nov | Cherokee NC 1000-100 Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds
24-Nov | Greensboro, NC 1pm – 530pm outdoor iceskating rink
25-Nov | Newport News, VA time info to come Oyster Point City Center
26-Nov | Dumpfries, VA 1000-100 rest stop on I-95
27-Nov | Hershey, PA time info to come Hershey Entertainment Complex