RAPHINE — The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree made its final stop on Saturday at White’s Travel Center before reaching its destination in Washington, D.C.

White’s Travel Center hosted about 500-600 community members who traveled despite the rain and freezing temperatures for the occasion.

“We were hopeful we’d have a good turnout and we’re thrilled,” said Jennifer Bodnar, White’s Travel Center’s marketing director. “We have been so excited about this and how everything went. To get to be part of the Christmas Tree Tour is an awesome thing.”

Every year, a different national forest is selected to provide a tree to appear on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building for the holiday season. This year’s tree is a 60-foot blue spruce cut from the Carson National Forest outside of Taos, New Mexico.

Three drivers split the 1,500-mile trip from New Mexico to Washington. D.C., with the tree making stops at nearly 30 communities along the way. White’s Travel Center was the final public stop. This year was the first time the tree has stopped at the location.

Upon the tree’s arrival, visitors were able to sign the banner on the Capitol Christmas Tree truck, take photos with Santa and enjoy a performance from Riverheads marching band.

“We are grateful to the host cities such as Raphine, Virginia who play a vital part of bringing the tree across the country and this annual celebration,” Choose Outdoors President Bruce Ward said.

Next year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas tree will come from western Colorado — Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre or Gunnison national forest.

The last time the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree came from Virginia was in 2004 when 65-foot red spruce was cut down in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

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Logan Bogert is a reporter for The News Virginian in Waynesboro, Virginia. She can be reached at lbogert@newsvirginian.com or (540) 932-3562. Follow Logan on Twitter at @Logan_Bogert.

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