Whether you call it a Christmas tree, holiday tree, yule tree, or something else entirely, nothing says it is time for the holidays like beautiful evergreen trees decorating homes, offices, and even the Capitol. Recently, a truck load of holiday cheer arrived at the Capitol in the form of a 35-foot noble fir, destined to be decorated from top to bottom with lights, ornaments, and toys.
If you dream of your own Capitol-sized tree, it’s easy. Check out our 60 video of how it was done at the Capitol and then check out our instructions below.
- Find a 35-foot tall tree. This year’s tree was donated by Weyerhaeuser and was grown at its tree farm in Vail near Rainier. It grew in an open area, so it was nice and full all the way around and top to bottom. If you can’t get a tree big enough for your tastes, try planting one and waiting about 25 years, the age of this tree, or perhaps less time if you would like a mere 25-30 foot tree. Once you have the tree, hire a company to cut it down and haul it to your location.
- Prepare tree stand and 4 x 4’s. No store-bought tree stands for this tree! You’ll have to custom make a steel tube braced and attached to a wooden platform to protect the floor. You’ll also need to prepare several 12-foot 4x4 boards for carrying the tree.
- Gather together 30 – 40 of your closest friends. How many people does it take to carry a 35-foot tree? A lot. You can load it off the truck with a crane, but you are going to have to carry it into the building.
- Carry tree into the building. After slipping the 4x4 boards under the tree at about 4-5 foot intervals, have friends grab the ends of each board. On the count of three, everyone will lift their board (while using proper form, of course) and walk forward, carrying the tree into the building. Make sure the stump-end of the tree leads the way.
- Get it through the door(s.) The door will likely be one of your biggest challenges in carrying the tree. The branches are so large they will try to prevent you from getting through. However, with determination, it will go through, foot by foot. As it goes through the door, you’ll have to stop each time you reach a 4x4. Pull the 4x4 out from under the tree and run inside to slip it back under the portion of the tree that has made it through the door. If you have columns inside the building, you’ll get to do this same dance to get between them as well.
- Carry the tree to the stand. Next you need to get the tree to the stand. Have your buddies continue to carry it forward until the base of the tree is at the stand. Rest the base of the tree on the top edge of the steel tube. If available, it is helpful to lay the tree half way up some stairs to prepare for the next step.
- Prop the top of the tree off the ground. Have your friends heave the top of the tree up as high as they can. Place two 4x4’s suspended on each end by two ladders (acting like a giant sawhorse) about half way up the tree (higher if you don’t have stairs) to hold the tree off the ground.
- Decorate the top half of the tree. Before you can fully stand up the tree, you’ll need to decorate the top half. Remember, this is a big tree, so you’ll need BIG ornaments. You might consider a theme, like the “Under the Sea” stuffed animals donated by the Association of Washington Business, which will be delivered to local hospitals for children at the end of the year. You’ll also need a lot of lights – 5,000 or even more.
- Stand the tree up. Using four ropes and about 20 of your friends, pull the tree upright until it falls into the base. Three of the ropes will pull the tree up while one on the backside will ensure that it doesn’t topple over the other direction. Once standing, bolt the tree to the base to secure it.
- Decorate the bottom half of the tree. Using ladders, decorate the rest of the tree. Hopefully you’ve been testing the lights as you go…
Okay, maybe this isn’t so easy after all. To truly appreciate all of this work, you’ll definitely want to visit the Capitol to enjoy this tree. One great time to go would be this Friday, December 2nd, when they will be having a tree lighting at 6 pm.
For a much easier tree but still a bit of adventure, be sure to visit one of the many Washington family Christmas tree farms.
See the final raising of the tree at normal speed in the video below: