ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Capitol Lawn is now home to a Lutz spruce from Alaska.
This is the first Capitol Christmas tree to come from the country’s 49th state.
Cut from the Chugach National Forest almost a month ago, the tree was taken by ship from Anchorage to Tacoma, Washington. Trucker John Schank of Fairbanks drove the tree 4,000 miles across the country on a flatbed, accompanied by law enforcement and Forest Service personnel.
“They’ve been with me from Day 1,” he said. “Without them clearing the lanes for me to make these turns, it would’ve been a real tough job.”
Nonprofit organization Choose Outdoors and the U.S. Forest Service put a tree from a different national forest on the Capitol Lawn each year.
Bruce Ward leads the nonprofit, and said this year’s tree harvest was blessed by Kenaitze elder John Ross.
“An eagle actually circled the tree before it was cut, and he said afterwards he asked the Great Spirit to let him know if it was OK to cut this tree,” Ward recalls. “And the message he got was ‘If the eagle lands on the tree you’re not to cut it.’ And so, I’m kind of praying so he doesn’t land on the tree, right? Because we’ve gone through a lot.”
Ward’s organization collected corporate donations totaling $650,000 to fund the trip. There were more than a dozen tree-related events along the way.
Soldotna fifth-grader Anna DeVolld will light the tree at a ceremony Dec. 2. The spruce will be adorned with 2,000 ornaments made by Alaska children, residents and tribe members.