MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the first time in more than 20 years, a Minnesota tree is on its way to Washington D.C. as the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.
The 88-foot white spruce stopped at Garlough Environmental Magnet School in West St. Paul Thursday. Students had a chance to see the tree and write a note on the side of the truck.
“We don’t have many windows on the side of the truck,” said Mike Theune, project lead for the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. “If we have too many it creates a greenhouse effect.”
That greenhouse effect could cause the tree to turn brown and lose needles before it makes its final destination.
“We want to keep that tree full of needles and healthy all the way to Washington D.C.,” Theune said.
He is following the tree along the 2,000-mile journey from Chippewa National Forest to the nation’s capital.
“This is such an amazing opportunity for the forest, for the community to share our gift from Minnesota with the nation,” Theune said. “It’s spectacular.”
Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken were on hand Thursday. Klobuchar says it’s an honor to have a Minnesota tree selected.
“It’s going to be fun to have Minnesota represented like that in a very big way,” Klobuchar said.
Garlough is one of 125 schools in the country that have their own school forest. Principal Sue Powell says it’s tied into the students’ curriculum.
“Our focus is trees so the kids are very excited that, you know, now we have this massive tree,” Powell said.
With the massive tree comes an even bigger crowd. Students not only heard from two U.S. Senators, but the mayor, the forest service and even Smokey Bear where at Garlough.
The tree is still touring in Minnesota until Saturday, Nov 8. Minnesotans are invited to Northern Star Council Boy Scout Base Camp at Fort Snelling Saturday to see the tree before it leaves the state.
Aside from signing the tree, there will be bonfires, hot chocolate and wreath making.
The tree will arrive in Washington D.C. on Nov. 21, and the lighting ceremony will be on Dec. 2. The tree will be covered in ornaments from stops along the way, including some that were made by the kids at Garlough.
Click here for more information on the tour.