UPDATED: California-Grown Tree Heading For U.S. Capitol Stops in SCV Saturday
The 63-foot tall U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is traveling across the country this fall and will stop in Santa Clarita from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Saugus Speedway/Swap Meet on Soledad Canyon Boulevard in Saugus on Saturday, Nov. 12.
Local military support groups and Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon are also using the event to collect greeting cards and donations for items for care packages to be sent to troops overseas during the holidays.
The tree visit will feature a wide variety of community-oriented activities and entertainment including:
- Disc jockey Cesar Flores playing holiday-themed music
- A special performance by the Valencia High School Choir
- A variety of food vendors
- Ornament-making for kids
- An opportunity to sign a special holiday banner (54 feet x 6 feet) that is on the side of the truck hauling the tree. These banners are hung up in Washington during some of the festivities on the tree lighting day.
- A food drive benefiting Gallup, N.M.
- Volunteers from the JROTC assisting with volunteer services as needed and a special color guard presentation
- Prayer Angels for the Military collecting wallet-sized photos of members of the military to be used during PAM's tree-lighting ceremony at Historical Veterans Plaza in Newhall on Nov. 26 and accepting donations for care packages to be sent to troops abroad
- Marine Toys for Tots - toy drive collection
- The Veteran Employment Committee (VEC) holding volunteer recruitment and fundraising for annual Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners for local veterans and their families.
Here's Saturday's agenda:
09:30 a.m.: Tree arrives escorted by Patriot Guard Riders
10:00 a.m.: JROTC presents Color Guard
10:15 a.m.: Congressman "Buck" McKeon addresses the audience
10:30 a.m.: Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean addresses the audience
10:45 a.m.: Marilyn Hacket sings
11:30 a.m.: Valencia High School Choir performs
The 2011 Capitol Christmas tree, a white fir from Stanislaus County, will make frequent stops across the nation on its way to Washington, D.C. The tour will take 20 days, seven in California and 13 across the country. The tree will be escorted by federal officials and have 24-hour law enforcement protection. A second full-sized semi-trailer truck will transport the 10,000 lights, 3,000 ornaments and numerous smaller trees to the nation's capital.
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The caravan will travel more than 4,500 miles. The tree will be transported on an overlength flatbed truck. Placed on its side, the tree will rest in a custom-made cradle that supports the branches, preventing damage and maintaining the tree’s perfect shape. The base of the tree will be fitted with a rubber bladder filled with fresh water nightly. The tree will absorb approximately 60 gallons of water each day throughout its journey to Washington, D.C., where it is scheduled to arrive Nov. 28.
The official tree lighting ceremony hosted by Speaker of the House John Boehner will take place at the base of the Capitol building on Dec. 6; a 7-year-old boy from Sonoma, Calif. will flip the switch.
At each stop on the tree's journey through California, residents will have a chance to spread the holiday spirit by bringing a non-perishable food item to share with those less fortunate.
The Pay it Forward project is a food drive that will be a gift from the people of California to the people of Gallup, N.M., one of the poorest communities in our nation. This activity is based on the premise of performing acts of kindness as a remembrance of kindnesses you have received in the past.
For more information on the tree tour, visit www.capitolchristmastree2011.org.
As he did last year, "Buck" McKeon has invited members of the community to write holiday greeting cards and letters of support to members of the military now serving around the world. Last year, he personally delivered 3,000 cards to troops in Afghanistan. Cards will be collected at Saugus Speedway from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Residents unable to attend Saturday's event at Saugus Speedway may drop off cards to McKeon's local field office at 26650 The Old Road, Suite 203, Santa Clarita 91381, by Nov. 21 to ensure delivery before the holidays.
After Santa Clarita, the tree's next stop will be at the Autry National Center in Griffith Park on Sunday, Nov. 13, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.