Capitol Christmas tree arrives in Washington ahead of unveiling

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — Fourteen days and 18,000 miles later, the Capitol Christmas tree has arrived in Washington — all the way from New Mexico.

Each year the Capitol architect asks one of the national forests to provide the tree. This year, it’s the Carson National Forest in New Mexico, where Ricardo Martinez is the deputy district ranger.

“We identified 12 candidate trees and in July the actual director of the Capitol grounds comes out and reviews the candidates that we identify. And this is the one that he selected,” says Martinez.

The winning tree is a 60-foot tall, 21-foot wide blue spruce. On Monday, a team carefully planted the tree on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Led — of course — by Santa Claus.

Martinez says the tree will be decorated with over 11,000 ornaments — all handmade by people in New Mexico. And the giant skirt that will sit under the tree was also stitched in the land of enchantment.

“I feel like this is truly the people’s tree,” Martinez says. “That there is the hands of thousands of New Mexicans on this tree.”

And it will all be ready for the big reveal next Wednesday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will light the tree in a ceremony on the Capitol lawn — a tradition that began more than 50 years ago.