National Christmas tree stops here

November 30, 1996


Staff Writer

The cross-country tour of the nation's Christmas tree stopped in Hagerstown on Saturday evening.

"It's one of the advantages of being in Hagerstown," said John Louderback, who recently moved to the city. He and others who braved the cold and rain came to the parking lot of the Days Inn on Dual Highway to see the tree, which was bundled and on display on a tractor-trailer bed.

Louderback, who brought his wife and three children to see the tree, said it was interesting to be able to see something of national significance up close.

"It's nice. It's nice it's here," he said.

The 100-year-old, 65-foot spruce was cut down Nov. 15 in the Manti-La Sal National Forest in Utah. The following day it began a trip that will end today when the tree arrives at the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.


To endure the 2,500-mile trip, and to make sure the tree keeps its freshness through the holiday, it has been receiving water and a treatment to keep it from wilting, said Bevan Killpack, a special projects coordinator with the U.S. Forest Service.

"Those are the kinds of things we have to do to come this far," Killpack said.

Over the next eight days, the tree will be decorated with ornaments made by Utah school children. A lighting ceremony will take place at the Capitol on Dec. 10.

The National Holiday Tree project is completely funding by private donations, Killpack said. Included are local sponsors like D.M. Bowman Inc. and Mack Trucks, Inc.

"The neat thing about this project is there are no tax dollars involved," Killpack said.

The tree came into Hagerstown as part of a caravan of trucks that are also hauling donations for the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program. Mack Trucks is donating several hundred stuffed toy bulldogs to the charity, a company spokeswoman said.

As for the tree, after the holidays it will be used for mulch to provide protection and nourishment for growing plants.

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