California, Let Your Light Shine! The Capitol Christmas Tree Story

June 13, 2011
By

Every year at Christmas time, one lucky State gets to be represented in the Capitol of our nation.  This year’s choice to send a tree to Washington DC is the great State of California.  The tree that will be cut and sent in November of this year will become the People’s Tree as soon as it is cut and makes the 4,500 mile journey across the country to adorn the Capital dome and nearby grounds.

Not to be confused with the National Christmas Tree which annually decorates the west lawn of the White House, the Capitol Christmas Tree is a tree selected from the National Forest within a given state and then sent to adorn the home of Congress. Once there, the tree will be decorated with about 10,000 LED lights and almost 10,000 handmade ornaments that capture the heritage of Californians.  The Capitol Christmas Tree and a number of smaller trees that arrive with it will become the gift of Californians to the nation.

Each state picks a theme for the celebrations and decorations that adorn the tree.  This year’s theme is called:   California  Shines!

California Shines in a Capitol Celebration

This year all Californians can participate in the pride and heritage of their State’s contribution to the history of the Capitol Christmas Tree.  The Park Department has invited Californians to submit their own decorations for the tree, a song contest is also being held, and a drawing will also be conducted.  The drawing will determine what Californian child between the ages of five and seventeen will be selected to travel to Washington DC to help the Speaker of the House to flip the switch on the People’s Tree.

Because both the decorating and lighting ceremonies of the Capitol Christmas Tree are anticipated and well known events, it will certainly put California in the spotlight.  Donations of hand crafted ornaments are being sent in from all over the state—including donations from California school, boy and girl scout troops, and all sorts of groups of both children and adults. All donated ornaments follow the theme of “California Shines.” Extra donated ornaments will be placed on the smaller trees that are also being sent to offices all over the Washington DC area.

Now, with the donated ornaments, the song that will be selected from the song contest, and all of the special events held in the State and at the Capitol,  California will have a chance to display the cultural, ethnic, and other aspects of its unique history to the rest of the Nation.

US Capital Christmas Tree 2011, “California Shines” Coming Events:

  • 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony – For Young Californians, between the ages of 5 and 17 are eligible to enter a drawing to win an all-expense paid trip for him/herself and an accompanying parent or guardian to Washington, D.C. participating in the 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in early December. Together with Speaker of the House John Boehner, the selected California youth will culminate the ceremony by lighting the 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree. This 60 foot tree is California’s gift to the nation from the Stanislaus National Forest. This holiday event will kick off the 2011 holiday season creating memories that will inspire and last a lifetime. Only one entry per person. Must be postmarked by September 30, 2011. Download your application here.
  • June 30 – “Califonia Shines” Ornament Campaign – Submit your ornaments to be received by June 30 2011 - Ornaments due more info here
  • July 7-10 – California Shines! Booth will be at Tuolumne County Fair
  • July 14-31 – California Shines! Booth will be at California State Fair
  • July 15 – Song Search Due Date – The Capital Christmas Tree, “California Shines”  The official song will be performed at the “California Shines Tree Cutting Celebration” in Sonora, California on November 5, 2011, AND at the Forest Service Chief’s Reception in Washington, D.C. in early December; expenses paid. more info here
  • August 1 – Art Contest Due Date – “California Shines” California Artists are encouraged to consider the theme to conceptualize the vision of a 60 foot tall California Christmas Tree destined for the Nation’s Capitol. Get entry forms and more info here August 31 – The Art Contest Winner will be Announced.
  • September 10 – California Shines! Booth will be at Tuolumne Me-Wuk 100th Anniversary Acorn Festival
  • November 5-6 – Tree Cutting celebration at the Sonora Fairgrounds
  • November 8 – California Tour Begins
  • November 15 – Cross Country Tour Begins – First Stop, Flagstaff, AZ
  • November 28 – Tree Arrives in Washington, D.C.
  • December “Early” Tree Lighting Ceremony Dont miss this incredable event.

At every event and celebration for the 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree we will be collecting non-perishable food to be donated to a local food bank. This is an important part of our program to give back to the communities who participate in this celebration.

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