U.S. Capitol Christmas tree set to stop here

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This Engelmann spruce on the Three Rivers Ranger District in Troy has been selected for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

It’s looking to be a festive afternoon in Whitefish Monday when the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree makes a stop here.

The Engelmann spruces selected as this year’s Capital Christmas tree was cut down on Tuesday in the Kootenai National Forest. The 79-foot tall tree was cut down near Troy and will make stops throughout Montana and the country as it makes its way to Washington, D.C.

The tree will make celebratory stops in 15 communities including in Whitefish on Monday, Nov. 13 2-3:30 p.m. at the Don K car dealership on Highway 93 South.

“We are honored that the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree will visit Whitefish on its way to Washington, D.C.” said Don Kaltschmidt, owner of the Don K dealership, in a release. “We look forward to sending our Montana-grown tree off to Washington with a proper Big Sky send-off. We are grateful to be a part of this gift to the nation and the unity it will help to bring to our own community this holiday.”

Festivities during the tree’s visit to Whitefish, will include an opportunity to donate toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign, brief remarks by Whitefish Mayor John Muhlfeld, National Forest Service representatives and Bruce Knudsen with the National Auto Dealer Association. Santa is also expected to make an appearance.

The community is invited to enjoy hot chocolate and cookies and to be one of the first to add their signature to the truck that will haul the tree as it makes its way across the country to the nation’s capital. Bee Broadcasting will be hosting a live remote from the event.

Every year a different National Forest is selected to provide a tree to appear on the West Lawn of the Capitol for the holiday season. The Kootenai National Forest in partnership with nonprofit Choose Outdoors was chosen to provide the 2017 tree.

After being cut the tree will be prepared for the more than 2,000-mile expedition, which culminates with the official tree lighting at the Capitol in early December.

Smaller companion trees also will be provided to decorate offices inside of the U.S. Capitol building and other important sites throughout Washington, D.C., along with dozens of ornaments created by young Montanans.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester selected Bozeman sixth-grader Ridley Brandmayr to flip the switch during the annual tree-lighting ceremony. During the reception following the lighting one of Eureka’s premier restaurants, the Front Porch Grill, will serve its signature huckleberry burger.

For tour information, event details, news and updates, and to track the tree cross-country, visit facebook.com/kootenainf or www.capitolchristmastree.com.

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