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WNC Christmas tree will be lit at the Capitol this week

Ruby, the 78-foot-tall red spruce from the Pisgah National Forest will be lit this week at the Capitol.
James Edward Mills
Ruby, the 78-foot-tall red spruce from the Pisgah National Forest will be lit this week at the Capitol.

Ruby the Christmas tree is now in place ready to be lit at the U.S. Capitol.

The 78-foot red spruce was harvested from the from Pisgah National Forest. Each year, a tree is picked from a national forest for display in front of the Capitol in Washington. It’s been 26 years since North Carolina has provided a tree.

A nine-year-old student from Kituwah Academy on the Qualla Boundary was chosen to be part of the lighting ceremony. Governor Roy Cooper will also be in attendance for the November 29th event. You can watch a livestream of the 5 p.m. lighting here.

Every year since 1970, the USDA Forest Service has provided a Christmas tree to the White House as gift from the people’s public lands to the U.S. Capitol Building.

The theme for this year’s initiative was from the Mountains to the Sea to highlight North Carolina’s geography and incredible biological diversity.

The National Forests in North Carolina encompass 1.25 million acres of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the southeast spanning elevations in the forest range from sea level to over 6,500 feet - that includes some of the tallest peaks east of the Mississippi River.

The NC National Forests host about 6.5 million visitors a year making it among the most visited national forests in the country.

The tree started its journey at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher where it was packed into a truck for the first stop on a tour of seventeen events to celebrate Ruby.

The third stop on the tree’s journey was to the Qualla Boundary where this year’s youth tree lighter lives. Catcuce Micco Tiger (Coche) is nine years old and is an Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen.

Coche also has ancestry from the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He gets his name from his dad, which is a Seminole name. Catcuce means ‘Little Tiger’, Micco means ‘Leader/Chief’ in the Creek language.

At the event he shared that he attends New Kituwah Academy language immersion school, where he learns to read, write, and speak the Cherokee language.

“I want to go to Washington, D.C. to light the tree so I can represent the Tribe and my community and so everyone can have a good year. I also want to see where the president lives and maybe meet him,” said Coche, in a press release from the U.S. Forest Service.

Here’s the full map of the journey.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.