Home stretch rounding into sight for Capitol Christmas Tree

Sean C. Morgan

Christmas in Sweet Home is coming early this year, with a day-long celebration and parade Nov. 9 to cap off Christmas All Year Round process of locating and delivering the nation’s Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington D.C.

Organizers are seeking volunteers to help put it all together, and vendor and parade applications are being accepted now.

The outdoor event will include musical performances, vendors and a logging exhibition. The Sweet Home High School cafeteria area, 1641 Long St., will be open, with food available for purchase inside and outside.

A lighted parade begins at 6 p.m., Committee chairwoman Susan Coleman said. “There won’t be another Christmas parade in December.”

Coleman suggests that residents use the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping.

“(Friday,) Nov. 9, is the day schools will be observing Veterans Day,” she noted.

With school out for the day, the street fair will begin at noon with local vendors and merchandise. “We also are going to have local talent singing on stage every hour.”

The parade route will follow the Sportsman’s Holiday route, from 22nd Avenue and west on Main Street to 10th Avenue, then east on Long. Bringing up the rear of the parade will be the Capitol Christmas tree.

The truck is 100 feet long, Coleman said, and it will continue to Highway 228 where it will turn back up Long Street.

The tree will be wrapped in plywood and in a banner, Coleman said. It will be visible through Plexiglass at the end of the trailer, with decorations visible inside.

At the end of the parade, the tree will stop in front of the high school, Coleman said. “That’s where people get to sign it – A huge Christmas card to D.C.”

Invitations to the event are being sent to dignitaries around the state and visitors are expected to attend from all over the county and state.

After leaving Sweet Home and traveling to the Albany Veterans Day Parade, the tree will travel to different cities in Oregon prior to setting off across the country to be displayed on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. A public tree lighting ceremony will be held in early December.

The tree will be one of five candidates, all but one located on the Sweet Home Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest. One candidate is on the Middle Fork Ranger District.

Jim Kaufmann, director of the Capitol Grounds and Arboretum at the Architect of the Capitol, has selected the tree, but he has not announced yet which one it is. That announcement will happen a week prior to cutting it. The U.S. Forest Service plans to cut the tree on Nov. 2. It will be stored by Murphy Veneer in Foster prior to the parade.

A short program will begin about 7:30 p.m., depending on activity around the tree itself, to give everyone who wants to sign it the chance, Coleman said. After the program, Cloverdayle will play a free concert for the community.

Cloverdayle is an Oregon country music husband-and-wife duo, now based in Nashville, Tenn. They are multi-year veterans of the Oregon Jamboree, including performances here in August. They recently released a new album called “Cloverdayle,” available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Reverbnation and other digital platforms.

“The whole point of this is it’s about Sweet Home for Sweet Home,” Coleman said. “It’s for us and about us. We’re just celebrating Sweet Home, everything good about Sweet Home, celebrating that we have a natural resource that’s being honored (as the community sends off the national Christmas tree).”

The tree’s itinerary after leaving Sweet Home includes an appearance in the annual Veterans Day Parade in Albany on Nov. 10. Veterans Day is Sunday, Nov. 11.

The Sweet Home Ranger District is continuing to collect ornaments for the tree. Coleman said that visitors to the annual Health Fair made a large number of them.

Total, the district must collect 10,000. Most of them are done, but more than 1,000 large ornaments are still needed. They should be 9 to 12 inches and be sparkly and weather proof.

For more information about ornaments, call the Sweet Home Ranger District at (541) 367-5168.

To volunteer with the events, contact Coleman at [email protected].

Applications for vendors and the parade are available on the city’s website, ci.sweet-home.or.us.

The next planning meeting for the Christmas tree committee is 10 a.m. on Sept. 4 at the Chamber of Commerce, 1575 Main St. The meeting is open to the public, and those interested in volunteering or getting involved are invited.