(WASHINGTON) — Nearly one month and 4,000 miles later, the Capitol Christmas Tree has arrived in Washington, D.C.
The 74-foot Lutz spruce from Chugach National Forest in Alaska is the first tree selected for the ceremony from the 49th state.
The tree was cut down on Oct. 27, and shipped on a boat from Alaska to Tacoma, Washington. From there, the spruce was hitched to a flatbed truck and driven across the United States, making about a dozen stops along the way.
Organizers strapped a GPS to the flatbed so people could track the tree in real time.
John Schank, the Alaska Trucking Association’s “Driver of the Year” in 2014, drove the tree 4,000 miles across the country, the latest haul in his 40-year, 5-million-mile career.
“They figured I was the man for the job,” he said.
With his white beard and rosy cheeks, Schank resembles another jolly old soul from the north, a comparison he’s used to getting.
“Oh, yeah, kids enjoyed it,” he said. “I’ve even gotten comments: Here comes Santa!”
He plans to see the sights in Washington before heading home by air, courtesy of Alaska Airlines.
Workers spent Friday morning unhitching and preparing the tree for its position on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. It will then be decorated with thousands of ornaments from Alaska, and officially lit by new House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Dec. 2.
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