The 2015 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be lit during a ceremony held today, Wednesday, December 2, at 5 p.m. on the Capitol's West Front Lawn. The ceremony is open to the public and no tickets are required. Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, LEED AP, will serve as the master of ceremonies. The Honorable Paul D. Ryan, Speaker of the House, will flip the switch to light the tree for the first time at dusk.
This year's tree is a Lutz spruce selected from the Chugach National Forest in Alaska. It was harvested on October 27, 2015, and after traveling thousands of miles across the country by sea and by land, arrived at the U.S. Capitol on November 20, 2015. The tree is decorated with thousands of LED lights and ornaments, handcrafted by children and others from Alaska communities.
The program will feature holiday music played by the U.S. Army Band. Anna DeVolld, a 10-year-old from Soldotna, Alaska, will assist Speaker Ryan with the lighting of the tree. Members of the Alaska Congressional delegation are scheduled to attend the ceremony, led by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
The gates will open to the public at 4 p.m. Access to the West Front Lawn will be from First Street and Maryland Avenue SW, and First Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, where the public will proceed through security. Parking near the Capitol is restricted; therefore, it is recommended those attending the ceremony take Metro (Union Station and Capitol South are the nearest stops).
The first U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree dates back to 1964 when Architect of the Capitol J. George Stewart, at the suggestion of House Speaker John W. McCormack, established the yearly tradition of decorating a tree on the West Front Lawn. Since 1970, the U.S. Forest Service has provided the Capitol Christmas Tree. The tree will be lit from dusk until 11 p.m. each evening through January 1, 2016.