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Staff from the Willamette National Forest install a wooden box with windows to protect the Capitol Christmas Tree harvested last Friday from the Sweet Home Ranger District. The tree will be in Sweet Home's Lighted Parade Friday at 6 p.m. and at the Linn County Courthouse Saturday morning during the annual Albany Veterans Day Parade. 

SWEET HOME — It’s a tad early to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas, but Friday there’s going to be a party in Sweet Home and everyone is invited.

The community plans to celebrate the start of the Capitol Christmas Tree’s journey to Washington, D.C., with a street fair, lighted Christmas parade, live music all afternoon, a short program at the high school auditorium and then a concert by Cloverdayle.

“It has been great fun,” said City Councilor Susan Coleman, who chairs the city’s Capitol Christmas Tree Committee. “It’s such an honor that this tree is coming from the Sweet Home Ranger District, and especially appropriate because Sweet Home has been a Tree City USA for many years.”

The 80-foot-tall Noble fir — the first Noble fir selected as a Capitol tree — was harvested last Friday from the Sweet Home Ranger District east of Cascadia. Since then, Willamette National Forest staff have been preparing the tree, including creating a box with windows, to protect the tree as it makes the 3,000-mile trip. 

Coleman said the project also highlights the community’s 100-year history of logging and providing wood products for everything from World War II to modern-day homes and businesses.

To celebrate, the community has purchased and installed 20 new Christmas decorations and holiday banners.

“Many of our old lights were no longer functional,” Coleman said. “Crystal Valley Decorating in Lebanon gave us a great discount on some really nice quality ornaments that will last us for many years.”

Coleman said the Capitol Christmas Tree Committee has worked hard all year, hosting numerous ornament-making events and promoting the tree project.

Committee members include Coleman’s fellow councilors Dave Trask and Diane Gerson, Shirley Austin, Jennifer Anderson, Miriam Swanson, Lance Gatchell, Joyce Ohnesorge, Dominic Valloni, Kellie Kem, Tom Yahreas, Patty Holk, Stefanie Gatchell, Greg Springman, Scott Gagner, Robert Shamek, MacKenzie Thomas, Nikki Swanson, Ken Collins, Candy Unger and Gina Riley.

“The committee received donations from many businesses and organizations for the new ornaments,” Coleman said. “The committee spent $7,100 on ornaments valued at $14,200. Crystal Valley Decorating was very generous to the city of Sweet Home.”

Sweet Home festivities will start at noon with a street fair and a logging exhibition.

Events will be held in the north high school parking lot. More than 40 craft and food vendors are on hand.

Live music begins at noon with Cathy Cheshire, followed at 1 p.m.: Markus Thedford; 2 p.m.: Praise in 3D; 3 p.m.: Christmas Star Karaoke; 4 p.m.: R & R Country Band. The popular duo Cloverdayle will perform inside the auditorium at 8 p.m.

Sen. Ron Wyden will ride in the 6 p.m. lighted Christmas parade and will speak at a short program at 7:30. Other speakers include Mayor Greg Mahler and Sweet Home District Ranger Nikki Swanson. Hillsboro fourth-grader Brigitte Harrington will recite her winning essay about Oregon's outdoors. More than 1,200 fourth-grade students submitted essays and Brigitte’s was selected by Gov. Kate Brown.

Harrington and a family member will be flown to Washington, D.C., for the tree lighting event during the Dec. 5-6 weekend.

Saturday morning, the Capitol Christmas Tree will be in front of the Linn County Courthouse as part of the annual Albany Veterans Day Parade and festivities. The community is invited to stop by and sign banners on the sides of the trailer.

It will then make stops at Cabela's in Springfield, the McKenzie River Ranger Station, Oakridge, Bend, Detroit, the state capitol and Oregon City before heading east on Nov. 14. The cross-country trek from Sweet Home to Washington will include stops at more than 25 communities as it follows the reverse path of the Oregon Trail, in recognition of the 175th anniversary of the route's establishment. (See the online version of this story for a thorough calendar of events and locations on the tree's cross-country journey.)

The public can follow the tree’s movements at www.trackthetree.com. Linn County Commissioner Will Tucker and his family also plan to send daily reports to the Democrat-Herald as they make their way with the tree convoy.

CAPITOL CHRISTMAS TREE ROUTE

Nov. 9: Sweet Home High School, 1641 Long St, Sweet Home. The event includes a noon street fair, 6 p.m. parade and a 7:30 p.m. program climaxing with a musical performance by Cloverdayle)

Nov. 10: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Linn County Courthouse, 300 Fourth Ave. SW, Albany; and 4 to 5:30 p.m., Cabela’s, 2800 Gateway St., Springfield

Nov. 11: 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., McKenzie Bridge Ranger Station, 57600 McKenzie Hwy., Blue River; 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., 48257 E. 1st St., Oakridge

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Nov. 12: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 450 SW Powerhouse Drive, Suite 422, Bend; 5 to 7 p.m., 160 Detroit Ave., Detroit

Nov. 13: 10 a.m. to noon, Oregon State Capitol, 900 Court St NE, Salem; 5 to 6:30 p.m., 1726 Washington St., Oregon City

Nov. 14: 9 to 10 a.m., City Hall, 313 Court Street, The Dalles; 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., 2101 Main Street, Baker City

Nov. 16: 9 to 10 a.m., City Hall, 911 North 7th Avenue, Pocatello, Idaho

Nov. 17: 9 to 10 a.m., Ft. Bridger State Historic Site, 37001 Business Loop I-80 Fort Bridger, Wyoming

Nov. 18: 9 to 10 a.m., Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site, 975 Snowy Range Road, Laramie, Wyoming; Nov. 18: 6 to 7 p.m., Scottsbluff, Nebraska, including parade route from 23rd St. to 17th Street on Broadway and ceremony on the 1700 block of Broadway

Nov. 19: 6 to 7 p.m., Otoe County Courthouse, 110 South 11th, Nebraska City, Nebraska

Nov. 20: noon to 2 p.m., Perry - Lecompton Middle School, 408 Lecompton Road, Perry, Kansas; 3 to 5 p.m., Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road, Kansas City, Missouri

Nov. 21: 9 to 10 a.m., Independence Uptown Market, 211 W. Truman Road, Independence, Missouri

Nov. 22: 8 a.m. to noon, Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade, 7th and Market streets, St. Louis, Missouri

Nov. 23: 4 to 6 p.m., City of Harrison, 100 Harrison Avenue, Harrison, Ohio

Nov. 25: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Andrews Air Force Base, 1500 Perimeter Road. Joint Base Andrews, Maryland

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Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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