The People’s Tree Comes to Sac!


Last week, the 84-foot white fir nicknamed “Sugar Bear” made a stop downtown on its cross-country trip to the nation’s capital.  This was only the fifth time since the tradition began in 1954 that the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree has come from a California forest, in this case Six Rivers. The tree was harvested from the Mad River Ranger District in Trinity County. Just last year, a little over 50 percent of the total district was destroyed in the Complex Fire. 

Journey of the People’s Tree

Sacramento was the tour’s eighth stop. It arrived on the west side of the State Capitol around 10:00am on a specially wrapped, elongated, climate-controlled trailer. Except for the back clear section where the decorated tip of the tree was visible, the sides of the trailer were wrapped with signs that convey information about the host communities, the map of its journey, sponsors and more.  The project is a collaboration between the Architect of the Capitol in Washington and the U.S. Forest Service.

Welcome to Sac!

Visitors wandered around it in the crisp autumn air, posed for selfies, and wrote their signatures and messages on the trailer’s banners.  Santa Claus and Woodsy the Owl were also on hand for holiday cheer and photo opps.
Two hours later, on the nearby grassy mall, California State Senator Mike McGuire hosted a ceremony for Sugar Bear. John Elgin, Chairman of the Lassic Band gave an opening blessing after he talked about the process of finding and then felling the great tree.

“We are thankful for being able to offer something after the 2020 August fire of 1.6 million acres of burned land, to be able to find a tree that wasn’t burned, and (for it) to be able to stand as a sign of the ability to endure…” Elgin said.
The CSUS Vocal Jazz ensembles performed their version of “Jingle Bells,” followed by speeches from California Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot and Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. 

Handmade ornaments

McGuire then called two North Coast students forward to present their handmade ornaments.  Traditionally, students from the host state make all the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree’s decorations , hence the nickname “The People’s Tree.”  California students made a record-breaking 15,000 ornaments this year, and Toddy Thomas Middle School’s eighth-grader Jackie Gonzalez was one of the two young people chosen to present their ornaments.  Gonzalez’ box contained two beautiful rainbow-striped fish.

“Jackie presented some wonderful fish that obviously represent the North Coast,” commented Eberlier, “beautiful, multi-colored, showing all unity together in color.”

You can see a video of the whole ceremony on Senator McGuire’s webpage.

The People’s Tree Leaves for to D.C.!

The massive fir will arrive in Washington D.C. on Nov.19. Once unwrapped, Sugar Bear will rise over the West Front Lawn of Capitol Hill.  Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, will light “The People’s Tree” in early December.

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All photos are copyright Chris Allan 2021 and cannot be used without my written permission. Please contact me for usage rights. Thank you for reading my blog post “The People’s Tree” To learn more about me and my work, please see my About page.

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