Capitol Christmas Tree stops in Dillon |

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Capitol Christmas Tree stops in Dillon

Special to the Daily/U.S. Forest ServiceThis year's Capitol Christmas Tree will be harvested today from the permit area of Ripple Creek Lodge in the Blanco Ranger District of the White River National Forest, and transported to Meeker for a kick off celebration. On Wednesday, the tree will make a stop in Dillon while en route to the U.S. Capitol.

Every year, as part of a tradition spanning nearly five decades, an iconic tree is selected from a National Forest to journey to Washington D.C., where it graces the west lawn of the Capitol during the holiday season. This year marks the third that Colorado will provide the Capitol Christmas Tree – and on Wednesday, it will make a tour stop in Dillon.The 73-foot-tall, 74-year-old Engelmann Spruce, selected from several candidates identified by staff of the Blanco Ranger District in the White River National Forest, will be harvested today from the permit area of Ripple Creek Lodge and transported to nearby Meeker for a kick off celebration. Then, it will spend several weeks on the road making approximately 30 stops at military bases and communities before arriving at the Capitol just after Thanksgiving.The tree stops in downtown Dillon on Wednesday, where it will be on display from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.To celebrate the occasion, the town of Dillon, with the National Forest Service, Dillon Ranger District and sponsors, will host the first annual Hibernation Hoedown, featuring live music by Arnie J. Green, The Grinz, and Big Onions; hot cider; hay rides around town from Keystone Stables; an appearance by Smokey the Bear and a history lesson. Festivities run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday. “The tree’s journey is an incredible chance for people across the country to be a part of an American tradition as it passes through their cities and towns,” said Bruce Ward, Capitol Christmas Tree national director and founder of Choose Outdoors. The Capitol Christmas Tree travels with “companion” trees and more than 5,000 ornaments handmade by Colorado youth, ages 5 to 19, to depict this year’s theme, “Celebrating Our Great Outdoors.” When it arrives at the Capitol, there is a lighting ceremony, and afterwards, the tree is lit nightly from dusk to 11 p.m. throughout the holiday season.”The Capitol Christmas Tree provides the chance to celebrate the conservation legacy of our national forests, the outdoor recreation opportunities they provide and the importance of stewardship and restoration of our nation’s forests,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, forest supervisor for the White River National Forest. Colorado also provided the Capitol Christmas Tree in 2000, from Pike National Forest, and 1999, from Routt National Forest. “We are excited to share this with our community,” said Dillon town manager Joe Wray. “Just the amount of team work and logistical components that go into a project like this are amazing. We can’t wait for the tree to arrive.” Tree info: