The Chippewa National Forest, in partnership with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Choose Outdoors, invites the public to the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree cutting ceremony Oct. 29. The event begins at 12 p.m. with a welcome from Chippewa National Forest Supervisor Darla Lenz; remarks by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Representative Richard Nolan; and a traditional blessing ceremony by Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe members. Minnesota Logger of the Year Jim Scheff will have the honor of cutting the tree, which will then be carefully lowered onto a 100-foot truck and trailer.

“The Capitol Christmas Tree cutting ceremony is the first step in a 2,000-mile cross-country journey to bring this white spruce to the U.S. Capitol. Given to us by the Chippewa National Forest right here in northern Minnesota, the 2014 Capitol Christmas tree will showcase our state’s natural beauty for the entire country to see,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar.

The cutting event will last approximately two hours and is open to the public. However, space is limited to 250 visitors due to the small site and the presence of harvesting equipment and large semi-truck and trailer near the Tree.

For safety purposes, visitors will be bused to the cutting site. Members of the public interested in attending the cutting ceremony must sign-up via email (r9_chippewa_public@fs.fed.us) or phone (218-335-8600). Responses must be received by Oct. 24. Please note: replying via email or phone does not guarantee attendance. If confirmed, visitors will be contacted by email or phone and given directions to the bus pick-up location.

All attendees need to plan to be at the event site for the full two hours of the cutting ceremony. The event takes place outdoors, so attendees are asked to dress appropriately for cold weather, including warm jacket, hat, gloves and boots. Limited seating is available, so attendees may bring folding chairs. Restroom facilities will be available on site.

After the tree is cut, it will take approximately four to six hours for the tree to be prepared for the initial leg of its journey to Bemidji State University where it will be wrapped for travel to Washington, D.C.

The cutting ceremony marks the start of the cross-country journey for the 88-foot tall white spruce. “This will truly be a memorable event,” noted Lenz. “This is a chance to acknowledge all of the hard work and dedication of Forest staff, partners and community members.”

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will make more than 30 stops as it travels through local communities, Minnesota and the Midwest on its way to Washington D.C. The tree lighting ceremony will be scheduled in early December, as determined by U.S. Rep. John Boehner, Speaker of the House.

For updates on the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, dates and times for events happening in local communities, and to track the Tree as it travels across the country, visit www.capitolchristmastree.com or call the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Cass Lake at 218-335-8600.

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