Capitol Holiday Tree Cam - 1997

In 1997, Senate staff set up a web cam in a third floor office of the United States Capitol Building and started a tradition that has carried on since, the Tree Cam.

The Tree Cam took a picture of the tree every minute and uploaded it to the web.

This time lapse movie combines those images covering the decoration, test lightings, and final lighting of the 1997 Capitol Holiday Tree.

The 1997 Capitol Holiday Tree is now lit up and ready for viewing on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. And it's here, compliments of the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota.

"Each year one of our country's 156 National Forests provides the tree," explained Gary Say, a Forest Service timber management assistant on the Spearfish-Nemo Ranger District on the Black Hills National Forest. "And, because 1997 marks the centennial birthday of the Black Hills National Forest, this was a special time for the Forest Service to provide a tree from it."

The 60-foot Black Hills spruce is the third tree that South Dakota has furnished for the holiday festivities. Trees were provided in 1955 and 1970, from the Black Hills National Forest, for display on the Ellipse at the White House. "But this is the first 'people's tree' from us," Say said, "for display outdoors for visitors to the nation's capital."

Glen McNitt, FS public affairs officer for the Black Hills National Forest, said that this is the 34th tree donated cooperatively to Congress, by the Forest Service and a state or area communities, for use as the Capitol Holiday Tree.

Chuck Morris, a FS measurement specialist on the Spearfish-Nemo Ranger District, said that the tree was cut in a ceremony on Nov. 14--in the middle of a blizzard. Then it was loaded on a flatbed truck and arrived in Washington, DC on Dec. 1. He pointed out that the activities surrounding this event are funded through sponsors and donations.

The tree--with its 4,000 ornaments made by school children, senior citizens, and other residents of South Dakota--was formally lit on Dec. 10.

The 1997 Capitol Holiday Tree will be lit each evening throughout the December holiday season.

--Norene Blair