Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), accompanied by 17-year-old Ryan Shuster, flipped the switch, lighting the 73-foot Engelmann Spruce and marking the official beginning of the holiday season in D.C. Shuster, from Colorado Springs, Colo., was randomly selected from 1,300 youths throughout the state who created more than 5,000 handmade ornaments for the tree.
Decorated with approximately 10,000 low-energy LED lights, the tree will be lit every evening from dusk until 11 p.m. throughout the holiday season.
The tree was hauled in a special trailer and pulled by a SmartWay-certified Mack Pinnacle model driven by former U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell. A second Mack tractor hauled the ornaments and dozens of companion trees that will decorate other government buildings in Washington.
Distinctively decaled with a determined Bulldog pulling a tree across a snow-covered landscape, the Mack Pinnacle is equipped with a near-zero emissions MP8 engine with Mack ClearTech SCR technology and an advanced mDrive automated manual transmission, which optimized fuel efficiency and performance by assuring that the truck was always in the right gear. The mDRIVE continually monitored changes in grade, speed, acceleration and weight as the tree traveled over mountains, through small towns and on busy highways on its way to Washington.
During its three-week trip, the Pinnacle tractor braved whiteout conditions through mountain passes, freezing temperatures and tight maneuvering in small towns and big cities.
Hauling the Capitol Christmas tree this year has been a special assignment that we have really enjoyed, said John Walsh, vice president of marketing for Mack Trucks. This is a job our trucks are built for demanding hauls across all kinds of terrain with very important cargo. We are pleased that the U.S. Forest Service and Choose Outdoors trusted this job to Mack, and we look forward to again hauling the Capitol Christmas tree in 2013.
The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, also known as The Peoples Tree, began in 1964. National forests rotate the responsibility each year of providing a tree that will stand on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol as a gift to the nation.