A 78-foot red spruce tree – affectionately nicknamed “Ruby” – has arrived on Capitol Hill to serve as this year’s Capitol Christmas tree. Also known as the “People’s Tree,” Ruby will be honored on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol this holiday season, serving as a reminder of the public land that has been set aside for all to enjoy. use and enjoy. The ruby is also an important symbol of the connection between the eastern band of Cherokee Indians and the mountains of western North Carolina.
For 75 years, Ruby matured on a steep hill deep in the Appalachians in North Carolina. Under the care of Cherokee citizens, Ruby’s parents grew and prospered on these same sacred ancestral lands.
Over time, the great red spruce grew, destined to be one of America’s most famous trees. Ruby faced stiff competition and passed rigorous selection criteria to ultimately be chosen as the 2022 Capitol Christmas Tree. In fact, a representative of the Capitol Architect, the agency responsible for building management and from the iconic Capitol Hill grounds in Washington, D.C. visited the candidate trees in person to help with the selection to ensure Ruby was the right fit.
Ruby has followed fate and is now properly seated – center stage; at the foot of the West Lawn of the United States Capitol for all the country to see.
Soaring 78 feet, Ruby will stand where many other United States Capitol Christmas trees have stood over the past 52 years. From Alaska to Virginia, and many states in between, the annual Christmas trees provided by National Forest System lands are special. Each tree represented a different forest and was selected from a variety of North America’s best-known species. Ruby is no different.
This year, the massive spruce tree was given as a gift by the Pisgah National Forest. This forest has special significance to the Forest Service, as the forest was once owned almost entirely by the Vanderbilt family as part of the lands surrounding the vast Biltmore Estate. It was at Biltmore that George Vanderbilt left a budding young forester named Gifford Pinchot to get some early experience in forest management. Pinchot went on to found and serve as the first head of the USDA Forest Service in 1905.
Now that the tree has completed its journey from western North Carolina and is in place, it will be adorned with thousands of ornaments made by schoolchildren and communities across North Carolina. Adornments provide additional meaning, as each ornament represents a person, family, or community that brought a little touch of beauty to this year’s celebration.
Then, on November 29, when the twinkling gem-like lights are ready to be officially illuminated at this year’s lighting ceremony, a specially selected fourth-grade student named Catcuce Micco Tiger (Coche) will flip the switch. .
The 9-year-old is a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. He was chosen for this honor because of his inspiring answers to a questionnaire sent to the children of the tribe asking them what they thought of Ruby.
“Our family is thrilled and humbly honored that Coche has been selected to be the 2022 Youth Christmas Tree Lighter,” said Katie Tiger, Catcuce’s mother. “This creates the opportunity for Coche to represent the eastern band of Cherokee Indians and emphasize that the tribe’s language and customs are flourishing in modern times.”
With a shining star for Ruby’s crown, the tree lighting ceremony marks a splendid moment for our nation’s capital, Cherokee citizens and all of America.
So if you’re in Washington, D.C. on November 29, and want to see something deeply festive, head to the West Lawn of the United States Capitol or tune in live at the United States Capitol Christmas tree.
History of Robert Westover