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Delivery of Capitol Christmas tree to West Lawn, lighting ceremony on November 29th

Capitol Christmas Tree 2022
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A 78-foot tall red spruce — affectionately dubbed “Ruby” — has arrived on Capitol Hill to serve as this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree. Ruby, also known as the “People’s Tree,” will stand on the West Lawn of the US Capitol this holiday season in honor of the public lands reserved for all to use and enjoy. Ruby is also an important symbol of the Eastern Band of Cherokee’s connection to the mountains of western North Carolina.

For 75 years, Ruby grew to maturity on a steep hillside deep in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Under the care of the Cherokee people, Ruby’s parents developed and thrived on the same sacred ancestral lands.

Over time, the great red spruce that was destined to become one of America’s most famous trees grew. Faced with stiff competition, Ruby passed rigorous selection criteria to eventually be selected for the 2022 Capitol Christmas Tree. In fact, a representative of the Architect of the Capitol, the agency responsible for managing the landmark buildings and grounds of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, personally visited the candidate trees to help with the selection process and ensure Ruby was the right choice.

Ruby has followed its fate and is now properly installed – center stage; at the foot of the west lawn of the US Capitol visible to the whole country.

At 78 feet tall, Ruby will stand where many other US Capitol Christmas trees have stood over the past 52 years. From Alaska to Virginia and many states in between, the annual Christmas trees provided from National Forest System countries are something special. Each tree represents a different forest and was selected from a variety of North America’s most well-known species. Ruby is no different.

This year the massive spruce was provided as a gift from Pisgah National Forest. This forest has special significance to the Forest Service as the forest was once almost entirely owned by the Vanderbilt family as part of the lands surrounding the vast Biltmore Estate. At Biltmore, George Vanderbilt had a young aspiring ranger named Gifford Pinchot conduct some early experiments in forest management. Pinchot founded and served as the USDA’s first forest service officer in 1905.

Now that the tree has completed its journey from western North Carolina and is in place, it will be adorned with thousands of ornaments made by schoolchildren and communities across North Carolina. The ornaments bring additional meaning as each ornament represents a person, family or community that has added a small piece of beauty to this year’s celebrations.

Then, on November 29, when the seemingly myriad of sparkling, jewel-like lights are ready to be officially lit at this year’s lighting ceremony, a specially selected fourth-grader named Catcuce Micco Tiger (Coche) will flip the switch.

The 9-year-old is a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. He was selected for this honor because of his inspirational responses to a questionnaire sent to children of the tribe asking what they think of Ruby.

“Our family is thrilled and humbled that Coche was selected as the 2022 Youth Christmas Tree Lighter,” said Katie Tiger, Catcuce’s mother. “This creates an opportunity for Coche to represent the Eastern group of Cherokee Indians and emphasize that the tribe’s language and customs are thriving in modern times.”

With a shining star for Ruby’s crown, the tree lighting ceremony marks a great moment for our nation’s capital, the Cherokee people, and all of America.

So if you’re in Washington, DC on November 29th and want to see something deeply festive, head to the US Capitol’s West Lawn or tune in live on the US Capitol Christmas Tree website.

Story by Robert Westover

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