After 4,400 miles by land and sea, 4,000 ornaments, 15 community events on a cross-country tour numerous celebrations throughout our nation’s capitol and thousands of well wishes along the way, the 2015 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree now shines brightly in the spotlight.
Alaska Crane provided cranes for the U.S. Capitol's "People's Tree," a 74-foot Lutz spruce tree made its way from Alaska’s Chugach National Forest to adorn the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol building, ferried along by more than half a million dollars in corporate donations.
“The way that the Capitol Christmas Tree operates is with a significant amount of private-sector support,” said Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors, a nonprofit that solicits and coordinates donations for the annual project. Nearly $500,000 of that comes from “in-kind” donations — the truck to transport it, and the driver’s time, fuel, hotel rooms and cranes, Ward said.
Certified Forest Service employee Dan Osborn cut down the tree on Oct. 27, with help from Alaska Crane and its operators.
John Schank, Alaska Trucking Association's 2014 Driver of the Year, transported the tree on its journey east. “I was with the tree from the time they fired the chainsaw in the Chugach National Forest until the time it was lit on Wednesday night at the U.S. Capitol.”
Schank initially hauled the 74-foot Lutz spruce more than 120 miles from Seward, Alaska to Anchorage, where it was shipped to Tacoma, Washington. From there, Schank transported the tree to Seattle for the lower-48 tour kickoff event and set out for Washington, D.C. in a 2015 Kenworth Truck Co. T680 equipped with a Meritor MFS13 front steer axle and a MT40-14X14 rear axle.