WASHINGTON — Sure, snow would have been more festive. But a very proud group of Minnesota lawmakers didn’t let a light drizzle spoil the holiday spirit when they helped light the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on Tuesday night.
The tree is an 88-foot white spruce harvested in Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest, making it the state’s first Capitol Christmas tree since 1992. It was cut down in October and made a few ceremonial stops in Minnesota along its 2,000-mile journey before arriving in Washington last month.
House Speaker John Boehner introduced the tree alongside Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Rep. Rick Nolan and a few other members of the delegation. The tree is decorated with 10,000 ornaments made by Minnesota students (a nod to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”) and Klobuchar made a Garrison Keillor joke (Minnesota: “where all the trees are above average”), so the tree got a proper Minnesota welcome to the West Front of the Capitol (drizzle — and tomorrow’s 60 degree high temperature — notwithstanding).
“By sharing this not-so-small part of Minnesota, we’re letting everyone know about the natural beauty and cultural richness of our state,” Klobuchar said. (Klobuchar is the senior ceremonial tree lighter in the Minnesota delegation, having flipped the switch for a Norwegian tree outside D.C.’s Union Station on Monday night).
The spruce is the second-tallest ever Capitol Christmas tree, which is fitting, Franken joked, for a state that produced two runner-up presidential candidates. Nolan hailed it as a non-partisan symbol at the end of another tough session of Congress.
“What’s really great about it is it’s right smack dab here at the Capitol, but there’s nothing remotely partisan about it,” he said. “It reminds us we are all one nation, one people.”
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry