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 that is taller than a seven-story building will be harvested Saturday. 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 that was 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 this 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.
Arizonans won't be able to see the tree in its entirety during the statewide tour that will include about 25 stops. Its branches will be pulled in and bound, and the tree will be encased in a vinyl cover to protect it from road salts, oils and freezing weather.
"If we don't, it will get freezer burn and drop all its needles," Davalos said. Continued...