Forum News Service
WASHINGTON -- A tree felled from northern Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest was lit Tuesday as the official 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.
Tuesday's ceremony on the west lawn of the Capitol followed a 30-plus city tour and 2,000-mile journey for the 88-foot white spruce, which was cut down Oct. 29.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., hosted the ceremony, along with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Although Tuesday morning was rainy in Washington, Klobuchar was still excited for the events that evening, she said in an interview.
Aaron Urban, a 10-year-old Maryland boy fighting brain cancer who wished for a special Christmas, flipped the switch that lights the tree as part of his Make-A-Wish Foundation grant.
"It's going to a special day for him, and a special day for our state," Klobuchar said earlier Tuesday.
Klobuchar said the best part of being involved with the series of public events surrounding the tree was seeing so many Minnesotans come out to attend them. The tree-cutting event in October was particularly impressive, she said.
"For me, the most amazing moment was being up there in northern Minnesota, and seeing everyone from the town (Cass Lake), and from the tribe and all the kids there, just the pride we have in our beautiful treasures," she said.
In addition to politicians and Washington residents attending Tuesday's ceremony, a large delegation from Cass Lake and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe were also on hand for the event.
The group plans to hold a drum and dance ceremony in front of the tree later this week, according to a release from Klobuchar's office.
Staffers from Boehner's office told Klobuchar they were surprised at how many Minnesotans were planning to attend the festivities in Washington.
"I said, 'What do you expect?' " Klobuchar said. "We're just very proud of our forests, and we're also proud of the people that work in our forests."
The tree is decorated with thousands of ornaments handcrafted by people from across Minnesota, and the state also provided companion trees that are placed in federal offices around Washington.
The tree will be lit every night at dusk until 11 p.m. through Jan. 1.
"This tree will light up children's eyes and make all of the busy people who work in the Capitol stop -- even just for a moment -- and look up in wonder," Klobuchar said in her remarks at the tree-lighting ceremony. "That is the magic of Christmas, and Minnesota is making it happen. This tree is a fitting representation of the natural beauty, hard work, talent, and sense of community that make our state so special."