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Capitol Christmas tree to be from Arizona

November 08, 2009|Felicia Fonseca

FLAGSTAFF, ARIZ. — An 85-foot blue spruce soon will embark on a long journey from the mountains of northeastern Arizona to Washington, D.C., to stand as the Capitol Christmas tree.

The 7,000-pound tree, taller than a seven-story building, was to be harvested this weekend.

From Alpine, it will go on a statewide tour before arriving at the Capitol on Nov. 30.

The tradition of having states provide a Capitol Christmas tree started nearly 40 years ago. This is the first year the tree will come from Arizona.

"It's a great way to help educate Arizonans and the nation on what resources Arizona has," said Rick Davalos, project coordinator with the U.S. Forest Service. "It's been a long time coming."

Harvesting the tree -- chosen for its height, color, fullness and lack of obvious defects -- is no small feat. It will take a mechanized cutter, two cranes with a 110-foot reach, and about an hour to lay it on a specially designed set of cradles.

The public can watch from about 150 feet away.

The tree was sprayed with a moisture retainer earlier in the week and is expected to drink hundreds of gallons of water through a rubber bladder bag that will be placed at the trunk's end.

Burlap covering the tree also will help extend its life, Davalos said.

Once Arizona's tree reaches the Capitol grounds, it will take about a week to decorate it with 10,000 lights and 5,000 ornaments made by Arizona schoolchildren.


Fonseca writes for the Associated Press.

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