What does it take to wrap an 88-foot tall Engelmann spruce? A lot of hard working volunteers, four thousand feet of parachute cord with a 550 pound breaking strength and a huge building.
Thanks to the sweat of over 20 volunteer and Pend Oreille County for the use of their shop, the 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas is fully wrapped and ready for its 5000 mile long journey across the United States.
The tree wrapping process started at the cutting site on November 1, with the tree being lowed into a custom made cradle atop a special Hale truck trailer and will be completed by November 4. Once the tree was cut, it was gently lowered onto the trailer by two large Hite brand cranes and secured to the truck with chains and massive nylon straps. The longest of the branches were tied up so that they wouldn’t drag on the road for the trees journey to the Newport celebration and to the wrapping site.
Once at the wrapping site, this is where the sticky, prickly and labor intensive part of the process starts. Volunteers start to move the branches towards the center of the tree by using ratcheting straps to move the larger branches into place near the trunk so that the tree will fit inside its protective box trailer. Once the branches are tucked as close as they will go to the trunk, volunteers tie the branches in place with the strong parachute cord. While doing this, the trees pitch, or sap covers the volunteer’s hands, clothes and hair making for a sticky, but pleasant smelling ordeal.
The next step for the volunteers is to erect an aluminum frame and plywood siding structure on the trailer and to install hoops on top that will serve as support and protection for the decorative tarp that will cover the entire trailer with the exception of three viewing windows. Two of the windows will let visitors at the tree’s 25 stops view the top of the tree with some of the ornaments that were created by Washington State school children. The other viewing window will give visitors a chance to see what keeps the thirsty tree moist and healthy along its trip.
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