US Capitol Christmas Tree

The tree is a gift from the Six Rivers National Forest in California. (USDA Forest Service.) Nick named Sugar Bear, the giant fir will arrive at the base of Capitol Hill on November 19.

When a fir tree is as tall as an eight-story building – 84 feet high to be exact – it really needs a name. So that’s exactly what the Six Rivers National Forest did by unofficially naming the massive U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree “Sugar Bear.”

A year in planning and now harvested, Sugar Bear has been prepped and is on a 3,500-mile journey to Washington, D.C. Carefully wrapped on an elongated trailer bed, the massive fir will arrive on Capitol Hill November 19 to a great deal of fanfare.

After the speakers and press have departed, the Capitol Grounds and Arboretum team will use a crane to hoist the fir tree onto the West Front Lawn of the Capitol building and into its enormous “tree stand.” Later in the afternoon, and the following few days, thousands of ornaments collected from children throughout California will be placed on the tree by a crew of workers using very long polls and a crane.

All of this leads up to the big night when Sugar Bear will be officially illuminated as part of a 51-year tradition that will include the Speaker of the House and members of the California Congressional Delegation. The flip of the switch will be made by Michael Marvis, a fifth grader from Del Norte, California, who wrote a winning poem about the tree. A very fitting end to a long journey for a tree named Sugar Bear.

The Forest Service has provided what has become known as “The People’s Tree” since 1970. Towering on the West Front Lawn of Capitol Hill. The White House’s National Christmas Tree has a series of handmade ornaments representing each state created by artists selected for the honor. However, the U.S. Capitol tree’s decorations, also all handmade, are created by hundreds of kids from the state hosting it, thus giving it the nickname the People’s Tree.