The 2015 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree made its first tour stop in the Lower 48 states Saturday with a community event visit to Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) and Lake Union Park.
The crowd gathered to see the 74-foot Lutz spruce from Seward, Alaska, chosen as the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree; Kenworth T680 76-inch mid-roof sleeper tour truck; and specially designed tour trailer.
The tractor-trailer combination will travel 3,000 miles together in the next few weeks to visit community celebrations en route from Seattle to Washington, D.C. The tree will be lit by newly elected U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Dec. 2, outside the U.S. Capitol building. House Speaker John W. McCormack began the Capitol Christmas Tree tradition in 1964.
The new Kenworth T680 was made available for the tour by PacLease, which provides customized full-service lease, rental and contract maintenance programs featuring Kenworth trucks. It is the second consecutive year that PacLease has generously provided a Kenworth truck for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour.
The T680 76-inch mid-roof sleeper is equipped with a fuel-efficient combination of the PACCAR MX-13 engine and the Eaton Fuller Advantage® 10-speed automated manual transmission. The truck also features the new Kenworth TruckTech+ designed to enhance vehicle diagnostics and to help optimize truck uptime and productivity.
Lynden Transport driver John Schank has logged more than 5 million miles on the treacherous Dalton Highway between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska – has received the special honor of serving as the tour driver for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.
The Kenworth T680’s distinctive decal design features the Chugach Mountains and the U.S. Capitol beneath a northern starry sky with the words “From the Northern Lights to Capitol Lights.” It includes the 2015 Capitol Christmas Tree official seal, a map of the tour route across the United States, and the Alaska state logo of Lynden Transport, a long-time Kenworth customer based in Anchorage. Lynden Transport driver John Schank – who has logged more than 5 million miles on the treacherous Dalton Highway between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska – has received the special honor of serving as the tour driver for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.
U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree driver John Schank of Lynden Transport is shown in the driver’s seat of the new Kenworth T680 mid-roof sleeper transporting the tree to Washington, D.C.
“For the next few weeks, the Kenworth T680 with the 76-inch mid-roof sleeper serves as ‘America’s Truck’ as it transports ‘The People’s Tree’ across the country to Washington, D.C.,” said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director. “This new Kenworth configuration provides excellent fuel efficiency and driver comfort with inspirational graphics for those seeing the truck on the road or at the community events.”
During the Seattle event, visitors also signed banners on the sides of the trailer to wish the Tree well on its journey, explored the Chugach National Forest Service and Choose Outdoors exhibits, and listened to the Alaska bluegrass band Blackwater Railroad Company traveling with the tour.
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is shown in one of the viewing windows on the special trailer.
In addition, Lynden Transport’s 1954 Kenworth (nicknamed Old No. 27) was connected to a 40-foot Aero Liner trailer that serves as the company’s traveling museum. Inside MOHAI, visitors could see a 1924 Kenworth Logger built just blocks away in Seattle near the start of Kenworth’s 92-year history.
During a brief ceremony, remarks were made by Leonard Garfield, MOHAI executive director; Jered Post, Lynden Transport vice president of operations; Mona Spargo, Capitol Christmas Tree coordinator; Bruce Ward, founder and president, Choose Outdoors; and Kurt Swihart.
Upcoming stops open to the public during the 51st annual Capitol Christmas Tree tour’s are: Nov. 9 – Bozeman Public Library, Bozeman, Mont.; Nov. 10 – Holiday Inn Convention Center, Sheridan, Wyo.; Nov. 11 – Main Street Square and Veteran’s Day Parade, Rapid City, S.D.; Nov. 12 – Cabela’s, La Vista, Neb.; Nov. 15 – Downtown South Bend, South Bend, Ind.; Nov. 16 – Court House/Municipal Building and Chamberlin Hill School, Findlay, Ohio; Nov. 17 – Mount Logan Elementary School, Chillicothe, Ohio; and Nov. 18 – Joint Base Andrews, Md.
Shown is the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree-cutting ceremony in Alaska.
The tour will also make a brief stop on Nov. 16 at the Kenworth - Chillicothe assembly plant, where the truck was built by Kenworth employees earlier this fall.
For more information, visit the 2015 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website (www.capitolchristmastree.com). The public can track the truck’s progress at Trackthetree.com.
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is loaded onto to a Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) Maritime Alaska ship before departing for the Port of Tacoma.
Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth's Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.