By Jami Palmer
Finding just the right Christmas tree for the Utah State Capitol is no small task.
A three-member selection committee began its search for the “perfect tree” the first part of September before finding one it liked in the front yard of Jack and Deanna DeGraw of Salt Lake City.
The 30-year-old blue spruce was cut down Monday, Nov. 19, in preparation for its lighting Nov. 29 in the annual “Lights On Ceremony” at the Capitol rotunda.
“It”s wonderful to know it”s at the Capitol and represents Christmas for the entire state,” Deanna DeGraw said of the 30-foot tree.
The family knew the tree needed to be cut down due to safety risks associated with severe winds.
The state”s Christmas-tree-hunting committee looks for perfection of shape and branches that bend upward, said Joseph Ligori, facilities coordinator for the State Captiol.
“Everything has to bend through the doors,” Ligori said.
After the 24-member crew used a crane to lift the tree to cut the base, they loaded it onto a flatbed trailer attached to a semi.
The tree was then transported, with assistance from the Utah Highway Patrol, to the State Capitol.
Sergeant Shawn Judd of the Utah Highway Patrol said three squad cars provided traffic control for the transfer due to the large size of the tree and its overflow into other lanes.
Once it arrived at the Capitol, crews used the crane again to lift the tree up the grand stairs. They pulled it through the south doors and secured it into its new home in the Rotunda.
After the tree is sprayed with 40 gallons of fire retardant, grounds and maintenance staff will spend four days decorating the tree, Ligori said.
Ligori said over 8,000 miniature lights will be attached to the tree. They will be combined with homemade decorations provided by 12 schools and other decor, all focusing on an Olympic theme.
Ligori said the general public can see the tree after it”s lit until the Friday before New Year”s Day. The Capitol is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.