80-foot-tall Engelmann Spruce Lights Up the West Front Lawn
On a rainy and cold evening on Capitol Hill, Boise, Idaho, fifth grader Isabella Gerard flipped a switch and brought Christmas cheer to the U.S. Capitol. Gerard and Speaker Paul Ryan stood together on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol and lit the 2016 Capitol Christmas Tree, known as "the People's Tree."
"It's called the People's Tree, and for a good reason. It reminds us that there are a lot of diverse interests in our country, but we're one as an American People," said Thomas L. Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. "We share a unique history, unique values, and a homeland that remains the envy of the world."
The 80-foot-tall Engelmann Spruce, provided by the U.S. Forest Service, traveled all the way from Payette National Forest in Idaho to serve as the 2016 Capitol Christmas Tree. The trip, which covered more than 3,700 miles, required hard work and coordination.
Speaker Ryan said that the lighting of the Capitol Christmas Tree made him hopeful and optimistic about the nation. "To see so many people work so hard for so long to give our Capitol some Christmas cheer is nothing short of inspiring."
Isabella Gerard was chosen to light the Capitol Christmas Tree for writing a poem about the winter landscape of Idaho, describing mountains and forests that "look like never ending clouds with skyscrapers covered in snow."
If you missed the event, you can watch the Architect of the Capitol's video of the lighting ceremony.