“People’s Tree” will make cross-country journey from Oregon to Washington D.C.

The holiday tree that represents the hope, goodwill and spirit of the United States people is headed to Bend this November.

Every year, a different National Forest is selected to provide a tree to appear on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the Christmas season. The Willamette National Forest in partnership with nonprofit partner Choose Outdoors and Travel Oregon will bring this special gift from Oregon to Washington, D.C. for the 2018 season.

To celebrate this annual tradition –  the genesis of “The People’s Tree” began in 1964 when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John W. McCormack (D-MA) placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn – the tree will make stops at more than 25 communities across the U.S. on its eastbound journey to the nation’s capitol, including an appearance in Bend on Nov. 12, 11 a.m. -1 p.m. on Shevlin-Hixon Drive next to the Les Schwab Amphitheater in the Old Mill District.

Smokey Bear will arrive via wildland fire engine and Father Christmas will fly in on an AirLink helicopter for this special occasion. Strictly Organic is set to provide free hot chocolate, Eberhard’s Dairy will serve up free eggnog, Savory Spice is dishing out free hot cider, and the Youth Choir of Central Oregon (YCCO) will be selling holiday wreaths. Deschutes Brewery will also be a part of the celebration, providing cups of cheer for adults.

Additionally, local non-profit Discover Your Forest will help kids of all ages make their own Christmas tree ornaments and the Central Oregon Trail Alliance and Bend Paddle Trail Alliance will be on hand promoting responsible trail and water use.

All activities are open to the public and free for all to enjoy.

“We are honored that the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree will visit Bend on its journey to Washington, D.C.” said Eric King, Bend City Manager “Our community looks forward to being a part of this gift to the nation and the joy it will bring to our own community this holiday.”

The theme for the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is “Find Your Trail!” in recognition of two 2018 anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act and the 175th commemoration of the Oregon Trail. Once the specific 80-foot noble fir is selected and cut from the Sweet Home Ranger District, the tree will head east o D.C. on the reverse path of the Oregon Trail. The 3,000-mile expedition will include a series of community celebrations and culminate with the official tree lighting in the nation’s capitol in early December. Smaller companion trees also will be provided to decorate offices inside of the U.S. Capitol building and other sites throughout Washington, D.C., along with 10,000 handmade ornaments created by Oregonians.

“We are grateful to the host cities such as Bend who play a vital part of bringing the tree across the country and this annual celebration”, said Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors.”