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79-foot Montana Christmas Tree Lit Outside US Capitol

Tree was transported more than 3,600 miles from Kootenai National Forest

WASHINGTON — A Christmas tree that was transported more than 3,600 miles from Montana’s Kootenai National Forest has been lit on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
Ridley Brandmayr, an 11-year-old Bozeman boy, lit the 79-foot (24-meter) tree during a ceremony Wednesday evening. The Engelmann Spruce was cut in November and features 12,500 handmade ornaments.

The tradition started in 1964 when Speaker of the House John McCormack placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. Nowadays, a different National Forest is chosen each year to provide “The People’s Tree.”

Montana Sen. Jon Tester chose Brandmayr to light the tree because of the boy’s perseverance following a kitchen accident in which he lost the fingers on his right hand. Tester lost three fingers when he was a boy.

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