The search for the perfect Christmas decoration has brought the U.S. Capitol’s attention to California.
In the middle of the Stanislaus National Forest stands the perfectly formed 65-foot white fir chosen as this year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas tree. The exact location is unknown to protect it from saboteurs.
Earlier this year, rangers set out to find 30 potential candidates to present to Ted Bechtol, supervisor of the U.S. Capitol Grounds Division. Bechtol toured the forest in July to select the tree from a final group of 15.
The winning tree was chosen based on its shape, fullness, color and the condition of its foliage. Not just any scraggly tree gets chosen, as the Capitol needs a tree that looks cylindrical from all sides.
On Nov. 5, the tree will be cut and loaded on a tractor-trailer for a 4,500-mile tour across the U.S. Once the exact location of the tree is released, it will be guarded by law enforcement 24/7.
The tradition of “The People’s Tree” began in 1964. Each year, the job of providing the tree rotates among national forests. This year marks the fourth time the Capitol tree will come from California.
The tree will be decorated by 5,000 ornaments handmade by Californians. A child from California will help light the tree on Dec. 6 with House Speaker John Boehner.
Come January, the tree will be taken down and ground into mulch to be spread across the Capitol gardens.