The National Chr…uh, I mean, “Capitol Holiday Tree”
Religious Sects Cause a Disturbance—a ‘Capital Gift’ for Taxpayers
Monterey, Virginia — The custom of placing a “Holiday” tree on the front lawn of the Capitol dates back to 1964. For the past 34 years the tree has been cut from a national forest, this being the first tree from Virginia, selected from the Highland County portion of George Washington National Forest. After being flown across the county by helicopter, it was set down at the county fair grounds where it was prepared for its journey through Virginia and then to the Capitol.
“Once again, political meddling soured what could have been a chance to bring Highland County people together at this time of year.” That was the reaction of one resident of this rural, western Virginia county. The November 13th “send-off ceremony” for the 67-foot red spruce “Holiday” tree appears to have turned the county fair grounds into more of a “celebrity and political photo-op” than a ceremony, and, according to another resident, “Controversies leading up to the send-off ceremony divided and angered people.” Many residents refused to participate in the preparations or to be present on the ‘big day,’ especially when members of local religious sects were warned there was to be absolutely no mention of the “C” word.