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2011National Christmas tree stops Tuesday at Library Park

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POSTED November 6, 2011 12:17 a.m.

The nation’s Christmas tree is making a stop in Manteca Tuesday at Library Park on its way to Washington, D.C.

Festivities are planned between 5:30 and 7 p.m.

The 65-foot red fir tree was cut down and removed from Stanislaus National Forest on Saturday. It was then loaded on a truck for the 4,500-mile journey.

It is the first time the California Red Fir species has been used for the nation’s Christmas tree. A big chunk of the funding - $5,000 - to transport the tree was donated by the Tri-Dam Project operated jointly by the South San Joaquin Irrigation District and Oakdale Irrigation District. That is why the tree will be making stops in both Oakdale and Manteca on Tuesday.

The public will have the opportunity to sign a large banner accompanying the crated tree. There will be face painting and refreshments. The public is invited to being a non-perishable food item to donate to the Capitol Christmas Tree Food Drive. A short program will take place at 5:45 p.m.

The tree was cut down Saturday with four inches of snow on the ground. It was selected based on its shape and fullness and color.

The tree is being boxed with a portion of the container using Plexiglas so that people can view it during its upcoming nationwide tour. A 60-gallon bladder bag attached to its base will be filled with water on a daily basis to keep the tree fresh. It will rest on a custom built cradle to support branches and prevent damage in transit.

A second semi-truck will carry 7,000 handmade ornaments created by California residents that will be used to decorate the tree. That truck will also carry smaller trees as well.

The tree is scheduled to arrive in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 28, with a lighting ceremony at the front of the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 6. House Speaker John Boehner and a child from California will light it.

A caravan of vehicles including law enforcement will escort the tree.  The tree will tour California for eight days before making a 12-day cross country trip.

The National Christmas Tree will be placed in the President’s Park on the Ellipse. Some 17,000 people are expected to attend the 89th annual national Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony that will be covered on national TV.

The box will display a large banner informing passing motorists of the generosity of the two irrigation districts.

After stops in Manteca and Oakdale on Nov. 8 - the headquarters of the two Tri-Dam Project partners underwriting much of the cost of obtaining and shipping the national tree - it will then go to Sacramento on Wednesday, Nov. 10, arriving at 1 p.m. for ceremonies at the State Capitol.

Then on Thursday, Nov. 10, the tree will arrive in Modesto at 10 a.m. Its next stop will be Merced by 2 p.m.

The last three California stops on the 4,000 mile journey from Sonora to Washington, D.C., will take place on Friday, Nov. 11. It will be showcased at 11 a.m. in the Fresno Veterans Day parade and will make a stop at Children’s Hospital in Madera at about 2 p.m. Its final stop is in Kingsburg between 4 and 5 p.m. that day.

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