WASHINGTON D.C. – The nation’s leaders stepped outside the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday afternoon to officially light their Christmas tree, cut down this year from the Kootenai National Forest.
The Montana congressional delegation attended the ceremony, as well as U.S. House speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R) – Wisc.
“It is great to be here, it is a true honor to be standing in front of you and the people’s tree,” Sen. Jon Tester (D) – Mont. said at the ceremony. “Take a moment, look up, it is no surprise this tree came from the Treasure State.”
Tester told the crowd even the star on top of the tree was built with Montana copper.
“From the Kootenai National Forest in Northwest Montana, this tree symbolizes our state’s incredible natural resources,” Tester said. “It is also a symbol of strong, hardworking Montanans.”
As per tradition, a child from the tree's home state got to flip the switch to illuminate the tree.
Ridley Brandmayr, an 11-year-old from Bozeman, had the honor this year. He lost the fingers in his right hand over the summer from an accident. Tester chose Brandmayr himself to flip the switch.
A fourth generation Montanan, Pete Tallmadge, had the honor of cutting down the tree, a 79 foot tall Engelmann Spruce in the Three Rivers Ranger District last month. The tree then went on a tour of the United States before making its way to Capitol Hill.
Last year, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was harvested near McCall, Idaho and made a stop in Coeur d’Alene.