An eight-point star sits atop the 88-foot-tall Capitol Christmas Tree, and its festively-decked boughs are set to shine Tuesday night.
At dusk, Speaker John A. Boehner will flip a switch, illuminating the Engelmann spruce on the West Front with thousands of LED lights as part of the annual tree-lighting ceremony that has been a Capitol Hill tradition since 1964.
The Ohio Republican will be assisted by six-year-old Giovanni Gaynor, a first-grader from Colville, Wash., who made one of the 5,000 handcrafted ornaments that Evergreen State residents donated to decorate their native tree.
Since its Nov. 25 arrival, a crew of about half a dozen Architect of the Capitol employees have been working to prepare the spruce for the holiday season. They secured it in the ground, adjusted it for straightness using ground anchors, then got to work hanging the ornaments and preparing electrical services for the lights.
Members of the Capitol Grounds crew have been unpacking cardboard boxes full of the bulbs, snowflakes and tiny American flags made to trim the tree. Trucks with boom lifts parked at its trunk help workers reach the tallest boughs. On its branches are fish-shaped ornaments, birds and stars designed to reflect the 2013 theme, “Sharing Washington’s Good Nature.”
Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers will emcee Tuesday’s tree-lighting.
Gates open to the public at 4 p.m. The program, featuring holiday music from “The President’s Own” Marine Band and noteBUSTERS, a local student vocal group, begins at 5 p.m.