Capitol Christmas Tree coming to town

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. But since snow is lacking, residents can look forward to a visit from our nation’s Christmas tree.

The “People’s Tree” will be making a cameo appearance in Cortez on Friday, Nov. 9 from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Cortez is just one of 28 stops on the capitol tree’s 3,000-mile trek across the country.

Former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell will be transporting the tree on a 105-foot long semi truck flatbed. The truck will be escorted by emergency vehicles and will stop at the parking lot of the First National Bank on 2258 E. Main St.

The event will include a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and the collection of toy donations and nonperishable food items taken up by the Cortez Fire Protection District. The food donations received will benefit the Good Samaritan center and the toys will be donated to local families. Those donations will be taken from noon to 2 p.m.

Fire Chief Jeff Vandevoorde said every Christmas the men adopt families through the Pinon Project and the Salvation Army to provide them with toys and meals. Last year, the firefighters adopted 11 families.

Tree visitors will also have the opportunity to write a short holiday wish to the nation and sign their names to a banner traveling with the spruce.

“The tree’s journey is an exciting opportunity for us to celebrate an American tradition as it passes through our area,” said Dena Guttridge, Executive Director of the Cortez Area Chamber of Commerce, in a press release.

The 73-foot tall Engleman Spruce began its journey in Meeker, Colorado on Saturday, Nov. 3. It was selected from the White River National Forest on the Blanco Ranger District approximately 40 miles east of Meeker. It will end its trip on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26 on Capitol Hill.

The 74-year old tree will be placed on the west lawn of the White House and a lighting ceremony in early December will be given by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner. The tree will be decorated with over 5,000 ornaments made by Colorado children.

The tradition of selecting the tree from a national forest has been going strong for nearly five decades. This is the third time that Colorado has been chosen as the site for the “People’s Tree.”

The first tree selected from our state was in 1990. Also an Engleman Spruce, it was plucked from the Routt National Forest in Steamboat Springs. In 2000, a Colorado Blue Spruce was selected from Pike National Forest located in the Front Range of Colorado.

With the past year’s devastating effects of wild fires, this is a wonderful opportunity for the state of Colorado to represent the nation with a shining gem of strength and conservation.