Girl Scouts of Colorado was honored to be chosen to participate in the 2012 Washington, D.C. Capitol Christmas Tree Project. The Capitol Christmas Tree was harvested from the Blanco Ranger District of the White River National Forest near Meeker, Colo. Girl Scouts from throughout the state have been hard at work making 70 tree skirts for the companion trees that has been delivered to Washington, D.C. dignitaries, the Interior Department and Congressional Delegates for the holiday season.
Girl Scout Troop 2619 of Mesa Verde Service Unit of Southwestern Colorado created something very special as a gift to the Citizens of the United States. We made Christmas tree skirts AND ornaments for the 2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree project. Our Troop had a lot of fun with this historic project as well as earning their Painting Badge. Each of the girls hand painted a scene depicting “The Great Outdoors,” which was the theme of the year. They used recycled wood discs donated to the troop. They painted scenes with horses, scenes with rainbows and scenes with trees. It was fun for them, but, more importantly, they were excited to be contributing to something bigger than their own community.
On Friday, Nov. 9th, when the beautiful tree cut from the White River National Forest came to Cortez, Troops 2619 and 1199 was there to add our Christmas wishes to the wrapped tree going to Washington, D.C. We arrived there on-time, but soon found that the Capitol Christmas Tree had been delayed a little because of snow coming from Montrose and had to be re-routed a longer but safer route to be able to get to Cortez. So we had a little extra time, but that wasn’t a problem for us. There were lots of fun things going on in the crowd. We got to meet Smokey the Bear and took our picture with him. We ate homemade cookies and drank hot apple cider provided free by one of our local businesses. The Girl Scouts played their own version of Duck, Duck, Goose…calling it Girl, Girl, Scout! So much fun! The fellow onlookers had fun watching the girls play their games which was entertaining for all. There were also firemen to visit with. The Fire Department was helping out that day and were also were collecting food and toy donations for the holidays.
As the delay grew a little longer, our troops were invited up on the stage. The Mayor of Cortez introduced us and said that he understood that the Girl Scout motto was to “Be Prepared.” It couldn’t have been more true in this case since we hadn’t know that we would be onstage this afternoon. And all of the Girl Scouts rose to the occasion. We recited our Promise and Law to the large crowd gathered to see the tree. When asked if there were any Girl Scouts Alumane that would be willing to come up on stage in honor of our 100 year Anniversary, we had several women proudly came up to join us. As a whole, Daisies, Brownies, adult volunteers and alumnae, we sang Girl Scout songs to the appreciative audience and were clapped loudly and roundly by everyone. We were a hit! Afterwards, our lovely alumnae shared stories of when they were Girl Scouts and/or leaders of their own troops. It was a wonderful occasion!
And finally, the big moment arrived! The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree had arrived. The excitement in the Girl Scouts’ eyes were evident for all to see. There was a big excited cheer when we saw the first escort lights. First you saw the State Patrol escorts lights flashing. Then you see the Cortez Fire Department escort that had ushered the tree through the town’s Main Street lined with proud and excited onlookers. Then….finally…you see that huge Mack Truck pulling the big box behind it that we all know is carrying our special tree. Seeing that beautiful tree come around the corner was wonderful. The U.S. Capitol Tree logo was emblazoned on the box as big as can be. The same logo that now adorns our Tree Skirts that we made for our project.
We had some wonderful speakers on the stage to welcome the tree to Cortez. They included our Cortez Mayor Dan Porter, our former Mayor Orly Lucero, Congressman Scott Tipton, Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell, Cortez Fire Department Chief Jeff Vandervoode and Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane. The tree was welcomed with enthusiasm and pride to know that it was our state that was providing such a time honored tradition to the nation’s capitol. Former Senator Nighthorse Campbell and a representative from the U.S. Forest Service were invited on the stage as soon as they could get their big truck parked. As they exited the truck, the clouds started to sprinkle rain on us. I do believe that they brought some much needed moisture to our region with that big tree. As they spoke the rain got a little harder. But no one from the crowd left. Not one person. Everyone was too excited at the chance to be able to add their Christmas wishes to the tree that no one left for the shelter of their vehicles despite the rain.
As the speakers finished, the crowd was invited to add their wishes to the tree. Everyone wrote their names and a wish. The Girl Scouts provided permanent markers for those who didn’t come “prepared.” The Girl Scouts met Santa and Mrs. Claus and took pictures with them. We also had the chance to meet the driver of the truck, Former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. What an honor to have met someone so helpful to our state in his former capacity as a representative and now as a citizen. His joke to the crowd earlier was that he was getting paid zero dollars to drive the truck. And that when he got back to Washington, D.C. that they were going to double his pay. The crowd chuckled at his wit. What a good man to donate his time.
As the crowd started thinning out, so did the rain. This beautiful tree brought some rain to us and the next morning we woke up to snow on the ground. What a priceless present that was brought to us.
Thank you so much from the Girl Scouts in our region to have been invited to participate in such a grand occasion. It was such a good feeling to know that we were part of a fun historic project that went all the way to Washington, D.C. Thanks!
Dena Thomason, Girl Scout Troop 2619
For media coverage on this event, visit the links below: