Papé is excited to be the presenting sponsor for the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and hope you were able to follow the tree's journey to Washington D.C. with us. In case you missed the tree’s happenings, we've summarized its journey. Be sure to tune in to the Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 6th.
Sweet Home, OR: November 2 - November 9, 2018
On November 2, the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree — "The People's Tree" — was cut down and prepared for its cross-country journey. Nearly 100 people attended this momentous occasion, including 50 lucky members of the community, Oregon State Legislature, Travel Oregon, the U.S. Forest Service, Papé, and other sponsors.
Following opening remarks from Papé Board Chair, Susie Papé, and other onlookers, chainsaw operator, Jonah Gladney, brought the tree down with the assistance of two supporting cranes (provided by Papé and Axis Crane Co). The tree was then lifted into the air and laid on the bed of its 3,000-mile traveling companion, a brand new Kenworth W990.
The Kenworth's cab was wrapped with a special design to celebrate the 54th Annual Capitol Christmas Tree Tour and retread the path of the Oregon Trail to commemorate the journey's 175th Anniversary. Redmond-based Central Oregon Truck Company was specifically chosen to haul "The People's Tree” across the country, because of their reputation for excellent customer service and long standing relationship with Papé Kenworth.
Finally, before being sent out on its grand tour, the tree was carefully boxed by several Willamette National Forest employees. It was equipped with a heated bladder bag to keep it hydrated and prevent freezing and fitted with a plexiglass window to the rear of the trailer to allow people to see the tree at each stop.
The 30-year-old tree began its journey only a few miles away from its birthplace, taking part in the Sweet Home Capitol Christmas Tree Light Parade on November 10th. As a parting gift, the local library added Christmas care packages to distribute to 22 libraries across the country in celebration of the tree and its Oregonian roots; including boxes of Honeycrisp apples and copies of the book, Wagons-Ho, meant to help children imagine the Oregon Trail.
Springfield, OR: November 10, 2018
After an early stop in Albany, the tree trekked south to Springfield for an appearance at Cabela's. Santa Clause traded in his sleigh for a ride in the Kenworth W990 as the tree pulled to the front of Cabela's to greet the waiting crowd. Live reindeer, holiday crafts, and a Papé prize wheel, were just a few of the activities hundreds of visitors enjoyed, despite the 34-degree temperature.
Bend, OR: November 12, 2018
In Bend, special guest, Father Christmas, made a spectacular entrance on an Air Link helicopter for the occasion. Smokey the Bear also made an appearance, appropriately arriving on a fire engine to take photos with the largest crowd of any of the events yet. Close to 1,000 people gathered at the Old Mill District and enjoyed local Bend favorites such as the Strictly Organic Coffee Bar, treats from the Savory Spice Shop, and beverages from Deschutes Brewery.
The tree made several other stops during the whirlwind tour of its home state, taking part in community celebrations from Oakridge to The Dalles and many places in-between. While in Oregon, the tree covered over 870 miles, made 11 stops at community events, and was signed by thousands of Oregonians with well wishes for a safe journey. While Oregon may have typically been the end of the road for early settlers, it was just the beginning of the long journey east for the Kenworth and “The People’s Tree.”
Oregon to Wyoming: November 14 - November 16, 2018
Leaving Oregon behind, the tree voyaged to Pocatello, Idaho, with Rick Williams, CEO of Central Oregon Truck Company, taking the reins of the Kenworth for the day. After switching drivers, the truck covered 203 miles of the journey, traveling across Idaho, Utah, and into Wyoming in a single day. As part of the retread of the Oregon Trail, the tree team made a quick pit stop in Soda Springs, Idaho. Soda Springs was a common pit-stop for early settlers as it was known for naturally carbonated water and steamboat springs that stem from a geyser submerged below the Alexandria Reservoir.
Wyoming: November 17 - November 18, 2018
A trip through Wyoming wouldn't be complete without an overabundance of snow, and on November 17th, the truck came to a screeching halt due to wintry conditions. The tree's travel team hunkered down in the Little America Truck Stop and news of the tree's location began to spread. Visitors braved the adverse conditions for a glimpse of the tree, some traveling as far as 70 miles. As soon as it was safe to travel, the Kenworth was back on the road at a staggering 6 mph pace until road conditions improved.
Nebraska: November 18 - November 19, 2018
The tree made its way to the Arbor Day Capital of the world (fitting, right?) on November 19. “The People’s Tree” left Nebraska City, Neb., leaving behind several Douglas Fir saplings. Nebraska was also known to be the spot along the Oregon Trail where settlers would leave behind large items like pieces of furniture, which would otherwise weigh the wagon down for the remainder of the journey west. The once arduous 445-mile trek through the state was an easy two-day's jaunt for the Kenworth and required no loss of cargo.
Missouri: November 21 - November 22, 2018
This year’s theme of Finding Your Trail still held strong even at the journey's end. Known as the “Gateway to the West,” St. Louis — and more specifically, Independence — was the most common beginning of the Oregon Trail, requiring travelers to start their journey by ferrying across the Missouri River. This stop completed the tree's retread of the Oregon Trail a few days before reaching Washington D.C.
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was officially delivered to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building on Monday, November 26, where it now rests after its 3,580-mile tour across the country. “The People’s Tree” arrived to resounding fanfare, accompanied by a caravan of support, including police escorts to guide the Kenworth through Washington, D.C. The tree was then separated from its traveling companion and placed on the Capitol's West Lawn, where the official lighting ceremony will take place this Thursday, December 6th, at 5:00 PM. If you’re lucky enough to make the journey yourself or have any family or friends in the surrounding area we encourage you all to attend the final festivities — you won't want to miss it!