WASHINGTON — If you thought it was a chore hauling your Christmas tree home, imagine hoisting a 78-footer into place.
That's the reality for crews tasked with setting up this year's Capitol Christmas tree – a red spruce affectionately nicknamed Ruby.
Every year, a different national forest is selected to provide a tree for the U.S. Capitol building, and this year's tree came from the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.
"Ruby" arrived in D.C. Friday morning after a two-week trip. A husband-and-wife team of professional truck drivers, Ed and Deborah Kingdon, traversed 17 cities from western North Carolina to D.C. with Ruby on a flatbed truck.
"The branches will be used for biofuel," Ed Kingdon said. "The trunk of the tree will be sent back to North Carolina to make musical instruments. The red spruce is valued for making beautiful instruments, such as the violin, guitar and mandolin."
Crews will spend the next few days decorating Ruby, ahead of the tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 30.
This is the third time a tree from Pisgah National Forest will provide a Christmas Tree for the U.S. Capitol, having previously provided trees in 1998 and 1974. USDA officials also say this year's Christmas tree "truly embodies “The People’s Tree" by having over 7,000 ornaments decorated and donated by schools, communities, and civic organizations across North Carolina.
According to USDA officials, Ruby represents an iconic tree species for the southern Appalachians, and this tree's seedlings will be a part of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program.
As part of this program, the U.S. Forest Service is partnering with the National Forest Foundation to raise funds for a new nursery that will grow red spruce seedlings to be used in reforestation efforts.