State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Capitol Christmas tree lit -- all 20 feet of it

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 5, 2013 7:43 PM

Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

The state Capitol Christmas trees have been lit -- one inside, and another outside the Capitol building.

First Lady Susan Corbett and members of the Pennsylvania National Guard pressed the button to turn on the Rotunda tree's 800 energy-saving lights, but the cue came from two kids standing on either side of Gov. Corbett.

"For the next few weeks in the month of December," the governor said, "hopefully we will act a little kinder towards each other, a little gentler towards each other, and, obviously, hopefully a little more generous towards one another."

The tree came from Crystal Springs Tree Farm in Carbon County. Owner Chris Botek said his farm's trees have been displayed in the Capitol for the past 17 years. The Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association donated the tree, as well as 30 others for display in commonwealth facilities. One of Botek's trees is also in the Blue Room at the White House.

"I think I'm one of the very few people crazy enough to grow them that big. They're very difficult to work with and handle," Botek said. "One bad ice storm, and you get a couple broken branches, and it goes from that beautiful tree to wreath material."

The tree on display in the Capitol rotunda is 20 feet tall. Botek said it was planted in 1996.

"But they're about three or four years old when we plant them, so that's 21 years old," he said, gesturing to the tree in the Rotunda.

The Capitol Rotunda is a typical spot for rallies and political events, but no tree-huggers were in attendance at the lighting ceremony to protest the felling of the Douglas Fir.

"It's a renewable crop," Botek said.

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