MCCALL - The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was the focus of a big celebration Saturday in McCall.
The tree was selected from the Payette National Forest and cut down from the Little Ski Hill west of McCall.
Saturday, it began its incredible journey from Valley County to Washington, DC - by way of several towns around Idaho.
It's been brought to the McCall Airport, bundled up on an 80-foot trailer, and you can see part of it through the Plexiglass on the back.
Now it's going to make its trek from McCall to Boise, around Idaho and all the way to the nation's capital between now and the first week of December.
"I've been really just trying to get it, this huge glory that it was, stuck down into an 8-and-a-half foot space by 80 foot space, which was no easy task," said logistics coordinator Chris Niccoli.
Nicolli had a big job - handling a big tree that will adorn the U.S. Capitol's West Lawn for the Christmas season. It's a gift from Idaho to the nation - Idaho's own mountain gem.
"It came off the stump as an 80-foot tree. It's got about a 26-foot diameter, 26 at the stump, and weighed about 16-thousand pounds when we got it off there, Niccoli said. "Right now it's sitting at 72 feet total."
Once it reaches the U.S. Capitol, the Capitol architect and grounds supervisor will trim the tree down a bit more so it can fit into the mounting space, and then fill in, if needed, with some of the extra branches. Niccoli has been involved every step of the way.
"Involved from day one in the logistics of getting it from here to D.C., picking it out, consulting with the architect of the Capitol, the superintendent of the grounds there," Niccoli said.
A specially designed trailer holds the tree in place, along with a special watering system to keep the tree fresh and green on its three-week journey. A special window has been provided for a view of the top of the tree. Niccoli says the last 16 feet are exposed.
"The tree sits on the cribbing which you can see through the window," he said. "There's six of these different sets of cribbing and they're hard to see here, but they're all the way down. The last 16 feet were painted white and they decorated with some lights to give it a Christmas feel, as well as display the ornaments that were made, so it's really nice."
On Sunday, the truck bearing the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will make stops from McCall to Cascade, Horseshoe Bend, and Boise. It will be on display in front of the Idaho State Capitol on Monday at noon.
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