A young girl from Soldotna will turn on the Capitol Christmas Tree lights this year.
It was not just luck, but creative writing skills and an understanding and passion for her home state that will send Anna Kathleen DeVolld to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 2. The fifth-grader’s submission for the Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Essay Contest was chosen out of hundreds of entries from all across Alaska.
“It’s so exciting Anna gets to represent the children of Alaska and the pride we have in our state,” DeVolld’s mother Shona said. “We are fourth-generation Alaskans. It just means so much to us as a family to be able to go and represent Alaska and show how proud we are to live in such a beautiful and amazing state. So I guess the short answer is, ‘Yeah, I am really excited’.”
Anna DeVolld will travel with her mother, her father, John, and her sister, Sara, for one week in December. They will attend a variety of events to celebrate the holiday.
DeVolld said she is honored and surprised that her essay was chosen. She said received an email from her principal, Richard Bartolowits of Connections Home School Program, informing his students about the contest.
“I didn’t expect to win,” DeVolld said.
DeVolld and more than 400 other students entered answers to the question “Why is it special to have a Christmas tree from Alaska?” Sen. Lisa Murkowski made the final decision.
“I so enjoyed reading all of the submissions for the Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Contest,” Murkowski stated in a Friday press release. “…The holiday spirit is already alive and well in the many thoughtful, imaginative, and fun answers, which is what made it so difficult for me to choose only one winner. I am so proud of these young Alaskans and wish to thank everyone who took the time to submit essays.”
DeVolld used less than 100 words to illuminate many state symbols the 75-foot Lutz Spruce, chopped from the Chugach National Forest Tuesday, will carry with it to the country’s Capitol.
“The tree lights display the Aurora Borealis, shimmering across the heavens. Tinsel resembles the Alaskan glaciers that sparkle day and night,” DeVolld wrote. “Ornaments represent the wild Alaskan creatures that dot the forests, sky and seas.”
DeVolld said her inspiration was some frost on a window. She remembered thinking it looked like tinsel, and that is when she decided to compare decorations to the state’s natural features.
On Saturday, DeVolld and her mother attended the Trick-or-Treat Street event in Anchorage, where the two spent time with Murkowski and DeVolld caught her first glimpse of the tree she had written about one month before.
“I was thinking, ‘That is tall, I don’t see why they need that tall of a Christmas tree,’ of course,” DeVolld said with a laugh.
DeVolld’s family’s tree is traditionally only about 10-feet tall. She speculates that the Capitol Tree needs to be that big so people can see if from far away.
DeVolld said she is nervous and excited to meet some of the officials who work at the Capitol, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan who will initiate the Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony with a speech, after which DeVolld will ignite the towering, whirling rings of lights. Ryan, the United States Forest Service and Architect of the Capitol Theodore Bechtol will host the traditional ceremony.