Montana Christmas Tree kicks off holiday season in D.C.

Montana’s Senators On Hand To Dedicate The Bitterroot National Forest Tree To All Americans

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) –Montana's Capitol Christmas tree took its place in history today, ushering in the 2008 holiday season during the official lighting ceremony outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.  Before the lighting, Montana's U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester dedicated the 78 foot subalpine fir from the Bitterroot National Forest to the people of the United States.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to have a little piece of Montana on display for the entire country to enjoy," Baucus said. "As Montanans, we spend a lot of time outdoors – whether it's hiking, fishing or camping with our families and friends. We're an outdoors people. We're proud of our outdoor heritage. And this tree will enable the rest of the country to experience a portion of the beauty that our state has to offer – the outdoors and the nature that defines us as Montanans."

"This tree helps us share a little bit of Montana with the rest of the country," Tester said.  "It's a reminder to folks all over the world of the beauty of the Christmas season."

Havre fourth grader Chris Gabrielsen joined the Speaker of the House in 'flipping the switch' to light the tree for the first time. Gabrielsen won a statewide drawing for the honor, after submitting a handmade ornament for the tree.

The tree is decorated with 5,000 ornaments handmade by Montanans and 10,000 energy-saving LED lights. The theme for the tree this year is "Sharing Montana's Treasures," which is embodied in the unique ornaments Montanans of all backgrounds have supplied. Montana also provided more than 75 companion trees that will decorate federal office buildings. The companion trees are decorated with an additional 1,500 handmade Montana ornaments.

The Capitol tree is on display outside the Capitol throughout the holiday season- a tradition started in 1964.  Each year a different National Forest from a different state provides a tree for the Capitol. This is the second tree Montana has provided as the Capitol Christmas Tree, the last time was in 1989.

Baucus and Tester were joined at the ceremony by U.S. House Representative Denny Rehberg, Governor Brian Schweitzer, Lt. Governor John Bohlinger, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Montanans.

The tree arrived at the Capitol on a 110 foot flatbed truck with a full police escort last week. The tree arrived after a three week and a more than 4,200 mile journey from the Sapphire Mountain Range in the Bitterroot National Forest. The tree traveled about 2,000 miles in Montana alone with stops in 22 small communities, which included parades, ceremonies and holiday celebrations in the tree's honor.  The tree also stopped for celebrations in North Dakota, Missouri, Illinois, West Virginia and Maryland.

A live shot of the tree is available 24 hours a day online- so Montanans can enjoy the glow of the Capitol Christmas Tree from home. To see the tree, go to and follow the link at the bottom of the page to the "Live Treecam."