The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Find ornament on trail, win trip for two to D.C.


May 30, 2018

THIS PHOTO COLLAGE shows samples of the (green-colored) glass ornaments hidden along trails.

You're hiking one of the mountain trails in the Sweet Home Ranger District when you suddenly spot a green glass Christmas ornament, maybe in a tree off the trail.

You notice it has a website and a number on it, so you take it home and go online and, presto: You win a pair of tickets to a music festival.

But it doesn't stop there. The website also tells you to register your ornament, so you do. Lo and behold, come fall, you learn you've just doubled the pleasure with a trip for two to watch Sweet Home's Capitol Christmas Tree get lit on the U.S. Capitol grounds in Washington D.C.

No, it's not a fairy tale. Well, at least, it may not be.

The Willamette Valley Visitors Association has launched a Christmas tree ornament hunt in the Willamette National Forest to inspire and increase outdoor recreation activities, connect locals and travelers to public lands, and to win prizes.

Two hundred glass ornaments have been hidden along non-wilderness trails on the Willamette National Forest for lucky adventurers to find. In addition to a keepsake ornament, over 120 lucky winners will be awarded prizes and all entrants will be automatically entered to win the grand prize: a trip for two to Washington D.C. to attend the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighting and festivities.

The 200 ornaments are split evenly between the four ranger districts in the national forest – 50 in each one: Sweet Home, Detroit, Middle Fork and McKenzie.

The Sweet Home Ranger District is responsible for providing this year's U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the local community. The tree will be cut on the Sweet Home Ranger District in early November and prepared for a 3,000-mile expedition to Washington D.C.

The coast-to-coast journey will trace the Oregon Trail in reverse and include a series of community celebrations throughout Oregon and across the United States. The journey will culminate with the official tree lighting on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in early December.

The contest is one of a series of events that will lead up to the tree's departure on Nov. 9. Locally, those will include a parade and community celebration the night before the tree departs on its journey.

Sweet Home District Ranger Nikki Swanson said each glass ornament hidden along local trails will bear a unique number that finders can enter on the WVA's website,, which will serve as the hub for contest winners to claim their prizes. The contest will run through Oct. 2, which is also the anniversary of the National Trails System Act.

Prizes, Swanson said, include tickets to sporting events such as Eugene Emeralds games, dinners at local restaurants, and more. About half of the ornaments will directly win a prize, but all finders who register at the WVA website will be entered in a drawing for the grand prize trip to Washington D.C.

"Some of the ornaments are pretty easy to find; others will be very challenging," she said. "We're actually hoping not all the ornaments will be found right away, that the contest will last till Labor Day."

In the event that the contest close is nearing and not all the ornaments have been found, hints will be posted, she said.

The ornament hunt will highlight 1,700 miles of trails on the Willamette National Forest, according to the WVA. The theme for the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree is "Find Your Trail!" in recognition of two 2018 anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Systems Act, and the 175th commemoration of the Oregon Trail.

"This is super exciting," Swanson said. "It should be really fun and it will get people out on the trails."

For more information on Willamette National Forest trails where ornaments have been hidden, visit

For more information on the Capitol Christmas Tree, visit

To get involved, drop in at the Sweet Home Ranger Station at 4690 Highway 20 or send an email to


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