Capitol Christmas Tree Makes Historic Stop In Barstow

By Nikki Garrett Metzger

(Barstow) – The tree selected as the Christmas Tree that will be displayed on the lawn of the nation’s Capitol building made a stop at the Tanger Outlet center in Barstow Monday night on its trip to Washington D.C.

The tree was put on display for residents to see, along with the opportunity for them to sign a large banner surrounding the trailer carrying it. A Barstow resident and Vietnam veteran that went by the name Jones explained why he came out to sign the banner, “I want to show my appreciation for the people that are overseas fighting for us. They’re giving their lives just so we have our freedom. We appreciate what they’re doing.”

Barstow Mayor Joe Gomez commented on the historic event. “I am so excited that we’re the last stop before the tree leaves California. The citizens of Barstow are very proud that the caravan made this stop.”

The mayor and other members of the city council presented a proclamation to the caravan during the ceremony. There was a good crowd that came out to sign the banner and participate in the food drive. Mayor Gomez explained, “We had a food drive and we’re donating the food to Gallup, New Mexico. It is the third poorest city in the nation. For every person that donated we gave them an entry in the raffle for an opportunity to win prizes.”

Jim Junette with the U.S. Forest Service is called the “Tree Man”. He was instrumental in narrowing down the choices for the Capitol Christmas Tree. “I took candidates from anybody that wanted to submit them to me for about 4 months. From those I selected the top 30. Then the head landscape architect from the U.S. Capitol came out and he picked the one he wanted from those 30 candidates.”

This tree is a 90 year old Sierra White Fir, according to Junette. It was 99 feet tall, but only the top 63 feet off were used for the Capitol Christmas tree. It is 21 feet wide at the base. There is a large rubber bladder surrounding the trunk that holds 60 gallons of water. Crews fill it up every day to keep the tree hydrated.

The caravan will stop in 24 cities before it reaches Washington D.C. on November 28th.  It will then be set up and decorated to prepare for a tree lighting ceremony on December 6th.

For more information on the tree, visit www.CapitolChristmasTree2011.org.

The tree’s trip east can also be tracked at www.TrackTheTree.com.

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