Capitol Christmas Tree arrives at JBA

Tree on truck

The 79-foot-tall Capitol Christmas Tree sits on the bed of a truck at Joint Base Andrews, Nov. 26, 2017. The 76 Year-old Engelman Spruce travelled more than 3,000 miles from Montana's Kootenai National Forest. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gabrielle Spalding)

Ornament in box

Ornaments will decorate the 79-foot-tall Capitol Christmas Tree that arrived at Joint Base Andrews, Nov. 26, 2017. The 76 Year-old Engelman Spruce travelled more than 3,000 miles from MOntana's Kootenai National Forest. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gabrielle Spalding)

Copper Star

A 5-foot-tall the copper star will top the 79-foot-tall Capitol Christmas Tree that arrived at Joint Base Andrews, Nov. 26, 2017. Th handmade ornament was one of thousands that were hand made from poeple across the state of Montana. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gabrielle Spalding)

People Gather

Members of Team Andrews gather to listen to key note speakers during the arrival of the Capitol Christmas Tree at Joint Base Andrews, Nov. 26, 2017. The 76-Year-old Engelmann Spruce travelled more than 3,000 miles from Montana's Kootenai National Forest before coming to JBA. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gabrielle Spalding)

Santa and Sparky introduce themselves

Santa Claus and Sparky the Fire Dog introduce themselves to a family during a celebration for the arrival of the Capitol Christmas Tree at Joint Base Andrews, Nov. 26, 2017. This was the sixth year JBA has welcomed the Capitol Christmas Tree. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gabrielle Spalding)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – Team Andrews gathered to welcome the Capitol Christmas Tree as it arrived here, Nov. 26.

 

The Capitol Christmas Tree, also known as “the people’s tree,” has been a national tradition since 1964 with a different national forest being chosen each year to provide one.

 

The 79-foot-tall Engelmann Spruce from Montana’s Kootenai National Forest made 19 official stops before arriving at JBA, where it was prepped for its final destination at the U.S. Capitol.

 

“This is the sixth time the Capitol Christmas Tree has made its last stop at JBA and has become a tradition of our own,” said Col. Troy Roberts, 11th Security Forces Squadron commander.

 

While being transported across the U.S., the tree was encased in red boards to keep it safe from the elements. Upon arriving at JBA, the boards were taken off for the first time since it was loaded on the truck in Montana.

 

Choose Outdoors, a non-profit organization created to promote and preserve the future of outdoor recreation on public lands, worked with the National Forest Service to secure sponsors for the more than 3,000 mile journey of the tree, to include the truck, fuel and event coordination.

 

“The Christmas tree isn’t just about Christmas,” said Bruce Ward, Choose Outdoors president. “It’s about the importance of our public lands and this unique American legacy we have. It’s about bringing the country together.”

 

During the event people took photos with Santa Claus, Sparky the Fire Dog and McGruff the Crime Dog, as well as ate cookies and signed banners that traveled with the tree.

 

Thousands of handmade ornaments from Montana adorn the branches with a 5-foot-tall copper star at the top that was unveiled during a lighting ceremony.

 

The ceremony will take place on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol Building, Dec. 6 at 5 p.m. and will be lit from nightfall until 11 p.m. each evening until Jan. 1, 2018.