The 2015 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree made its first tour stop in the Lower 48 states on Nov. 7 with a community event visit to Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) and Lake Union Park.
The crowd gathered to see the 74-foot Lutz spruce from Seward, Alaska, chosen as the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.The tree came to town hauled by a Kenworth T680 76-inch mid-roof sleeper tour truck and a specially designed tour trailer. After touring through the United States in this fashion, the tree will eventually come to Washington, D.C., where it will be lit by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on Dec. 2, outside the U.S. Capitol building. House Speaker John W. McCormack began the Capitol Christmas Tree tradition in 1964.
The Kenworth T680 was made available for the tour by PacLease, which provides customized full-service lease, rental and contract maintenance programs featuring Kenworth trucks. It is the second consecutive year that PacLease has provided a Kenworth truck for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour.
The Kenworth T680’s distinctive decal design features the Chugach Mountains and the U.S. Capitol beneath a northern starry sky with the words “From the Northern Lights to Capitol Lights.” It includes the 2015 Capitol Christmas Tree official seal, a map of the tour route across the United States, and the Alaska state logo of Lynden Transport, a long-time Kenworth customer based in Anchorage. Lynden Transport driver John Schank, who has logged more than 5 million miles on the treacherous Dalton Highway between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, has received the honor of serving as the tour driver for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.
“For the next few weeks, the Kenworth T680 with the 76-inch mid-roof sleeper serves as ‘America’s Truck’ as it transports ‘The People’s Tree’ across the country to Washington, D.C.,” commented Kurt Swihart, Kenworth’s marketing director. “This new Kenworth configuration provides excellent fuel efficiency and driver comfort with inspirational graphics for those seeing the truck on the road or at the community events.”
During the Seattle event, visitors also signed banners on the sides of the trailer to wish the Tree well on its journey, explored the Chugach National Forest Service and Choose Outdoors exhibits, and listened to the Alaska bluegrass band Blackwater Railroad Company traveling with the tour. In addition, Lynden Transport’s 1954 Kenworth (nicknamed Old No. 27) was connected to a 40-foot Aero Liner trailer that serves as the company’s traveling museum. Inside MOHAI, visitors could see a 1924 Kenworth Logger built just blocks away in Seattle near the start of Kenworth’s 92-year history.
Upcoming stops open to the public during the 51st annual Capitol Christmas Tree tour’s are as follows: Nov. 9 – Bozeman Public Library, Bozeman, Mont.; Nov. 10 – Holiday Inn Convention Center, Sheridan, Wyo.; Nov. 11 – Main Street Square and Veteran’s Day Parade, Rapid City, S.D.; Nov. 12 – Cabela’s, La Vista, Neb.; Nov. 15 – Downtown South Bend, South Bend, Ind.; Nov. 16 – Court House/Municipal Building and Chamberlin Hill School, Findlay, Ohio; Nov. 17 – Mount Logan Elementary School, Chillicothe, Ohio; and Nov. 18 – Joint Base Andrews, Md. The tour will also make a brief stop on Nov. 16 at the Kenworth – Chillicothe assembly plant, where the truck was built.