North Carolina honored this week with U.S. Capitol tree lighting | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is Theresa Opeka.

    North Carolina has a special place of honor in our nation's capital this Christmas season, all thanks to a special tree named "Ruby."

    Ruby, a 78-foot tall Red Spruce from North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest, was lit on Tuesday by nine-year-old Catcuce (Coche) Micco Tiger, a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), in western North Carolina. Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper was also in attendance.

    Coche told uscapitolchristmastree.com that he wanted to go to Washington, D.C., to light the tree "so I can represent the Tribe and my community, and so everyone can have a good year. I also want to see where the president lives and maybe meet him."

    North Carolina, the nation's second-largest producer of Christmas trees, has a special relationship with providing Christmas trees to our nation's capital. Not only has the state provided the Capitol Christmas Tree this year for the third time, but it has also provided Christmas trees to the White House 14 times, more than any other state.

    Ruby was decorated with thousands of handmade ornaments from North Carolina residents.

    "Excited to have a piece of our state at the U.S. Capitol," Republican Congressman David Rouzer, NC-7, posted on Twitter.

    "I may be a bit biased, but I think they made the perfect selection for this year's Capitol Christmas Tree," said Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Hendersonville, and soon-to-be congressman for NC-11. "This #NC11 tree hails from the Pisgah National Forest & will serve as a proud reminder of the beautiful district I serve each time I enter the Capitol this holiday season."

    The tree was chosen in July after the Architect of the Capitol, which preserves and maintains historic buildings, monuments, art, and inspirational gardens on the Capitol campus, met with officials from the U.S. Forest Service in North Carolina.

    The red spruce tree, which grows from Canada to North Carolina, used to cover 10 times the area in the Appalachians it does today but was over-logged in the 1800s and 1900s.

    Conservation efforts are underway by the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation. They are raising money to build a state-of-the-art nursery to grow red spruce seedlings, including some from cones harvested from Ruby that will be used in reforestation work.

    Ruby's legacy will also carry on in another way after the Christmas season is over. Her wood will be used to make musical instruments.
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