WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WSPA) – For the third time in history, the state of North Carolina was selected to provide the national Christmas tree.
What’s now the center of attention on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol started down south. The journey of the national Christmas tree began several weeks ago as the sound of chainsaws filled the air in the heart of North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest.
“I consider it a great honor to be able to be here today,” said Rodney Smith, a tree sawyer.
Smith, a North Carolina native, said it was a team effort as he helped cut down the tree.
“The actual harvest won’t take that many minutes to release it from the stump but then there will be a lot of work involved with getting it road-ready,” he said.
Prior to the first cut, Pisgah Forest Zone Silviculturist Rachel Dickson and a selection committee scoured the forests for the perfect tree.
“We went out in teams looking for trees that met the criteria that the architect of the Capitol laid out for us so that basically 65-80 feet tall, beautiful, chronical shape, no bald spots, really full crown,” explained Dickson.
After combing through hundreds of acres of North Carolina forests, they found the one: A 78-foot red spruce named “Ruby” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Then, she hit the road.
“This is Ruby and the truck is Ruby’s ride,” said Smith.
Lights, camera, red spruce! This year’s Capitol Christmas Tree traveled from the mountains of North Carolina to the sea, making stops in towns and communities along the way before it reached its final destination.
“It’s given us an opportunity to connect with over a hundred different communities and events across the state,” said Adrianne Rubiaco of National Forests of North Carolina.
For the past several weeks, people gathered to catch a glimpse of the national spectacle, snap photos, and take part in the journey as it traveled hundreds of miles away.
For locals, seeing the tree in person was special.
“We have probably driven past this tree a millions times,” said Joshua Parker.
“I think that it’s very cool that they came here to harvest it and it just feels cool that the president is going to have this tree and I think that that’s awesome,” said Ian Hardison.
Ruby is known as the ‘People’s Tree’ and signifies the rich history and tradition of North Carolina’s forests. It also showcases the natural and cultural heritage the state has to offer.
“It is so special for us here in North Carolina to be a part of this program,” said Rubiaco. “It gives us this amazing opportunity to connect with all of our communities, to connect with the public and then also connect them to their public lands.”
Now the tree represents North Carolina this holiday season, spreading cheer nationwide.
Ruby’s journey will continue when her time on the West Lawn comes to an end. Representatives from North Carolina’s Forest Services said she will return to Western North Carolina and be repurposed into instruments and donated to charities.