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U.S. Capitol Christmas tree arrives from N.C.

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Workers prepare to remove the official U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, a 78-foot red spruce named "Ruby," from the flatbed truck that delivered the tree from North Carolina on Friday. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI
Workers prepare to remove the official U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, a 78-foot red spruce named "Ruby," from the flatbed truck that delivered the tree from North Carolina on Friday. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, a 78-foot-tall red spruce grown in North Carolina, arrived in Washington on Friday.

The tree will be lit with thousands of LED bulbs and decorated with hand-crafted ornaments from people in North Carolina, said Jim Kaufman, director of the Capitol Grounds and Arboretum.

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The lighting is scheduled for Nov. 29. The official lighter will be Coche Tiger, a 9-year-old citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.

Nicknamed "Ruby," the tree was harvested from North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest on Nov. 2 in a virtual ceremony.

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It was loaded onto a flatbed trailer attached to a Kenworth T680 truck driven by Ed Kingdon Jr. and Deb Kingdon of North Carolina's Hardy Brothers Trucking. The tree made several stops in North Carolina communities during a 14-day tour before arriving at the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Part of the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree program involves a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation to raise funds for a nursery that will grow seedlings for reforestation. The nursery will eventually grow seedlings from "Ruby."

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The nursery will be managed by the Southern Highlands Reserve, a nonprofit arboretum and research center that seeks to raise 50,000 red spruce trees for public lands in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

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The tradition of erecting a Christmas tree on the west front lawn of the Capitol goes back as far as 1919. But it did not become a formal and regular occurrence until 1964, when a Douglas fir was purchased in Birdsboro, Pa., and planted on the lawn.

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