TravelCenters of America Inc. is covering all fuel costs associated with hauling the 2019 Capitol Christmas Tree. The “People’s Tree,” a 60-foot tall Blue Spruce, is to be cut today and begin it's approximately 2,000-mile journey from New Mexico’s Carson National Forest to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC, on Nov. 11.
“We’re proud to help transport a true American symbol and be part of a tradition that means so much to so many,” said Barry Richards, president and COO of TravelCenters. “Supporting the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree initiative also allows us to celebrate the spirit of the season.”
The tree’s journey can be tracked in near real-time at the Capitol tree tracker’s website and will include a series of community celebrations Nov. 11-25 across the U.S., culminating with an official tree lighting on the West Lawn in early December.
The final public stop along the route will be on Nov. 23 at the Petro Stopping Center in Raphine, VA, also known as White’s Travel Center. The entire community is invited to see the tree, sign the banners on the truck, and enjoy food, crafts and more from 2 – 3 p.m. Petro Raphine is located at 2440 Raphine Road, along I-81/I-64, Exit 205.
Wilbanks Trucking Services, based in Artesia, NM, will transport the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in a Kenworth W990. A second truck will haul smaller companion trees provided to decorate offices inside of the U.S. Capitol building and other sites throughout Washington, DC, along with 10,000 handmade ornaments created by New Mexicans. TA will fuel both trucks’ journeys from New Mexico to Washington, DC, and back, about 8,000 miles round trip.
Every year since 1970, the USDA Forest Service has provided a tree from a U.S. national forest to appear on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building for the holiday season. The Carson National Forest has partnered with nonprofit partner Choose Outdoors to bring the special gift from New Mexico to Washington, DC, for the 2019 season.
“The annual journey is only possible with the help of strong community partnerships throughout New Mexico and beyond state lines,” said Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors. “We’re grateful for the time and resources TravelCenters of America is providing to help make this the best year yet.”