National Christmas Tree planted days before massive storm

The National Christmas Tree being planted Saturday morning. (WTOP/Jamie Forzato)
National Christmas Tree planted before Hurricane Sandy

wtopstaff | November 14, 2014 2:37 pm

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Jamie Forzato, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – A new National Christmas Tree was planted Saturday morning – just days before Hurricane Sandy is expected to wreak havoc in the District.

The National Christmas Tree that stood on the Ellipse near the White House since 1978 fell after a windstorm in February 2011. The replacement tree did not survive in the warm, dry weather in the spring and had to be removed last May.

But this time, John Stanwich, the National Park Service liaison to the White House, says he is optimistic that the 28-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce will stay standing, even as gale-force winds approach the East Coast.

“With high winds expected, the horticultural experts really wereconvinced that the best place was to be brought here to the site to be put in the ground,” Stanwich says.

The tree was uprooted on Oct. 5 from a site in Virginia and then transported and stored in a box before planting. Stanwich says officials did not wait to plant the tree until the storm passes because the tree would be more vulnerable to storm damage in the container it is stored in.

“Here, it’s placed into the ground in a stable situation,” Stanwich says. “We have stabilizing wires that will be placed on the tree to hold it.”

The tree is also supported by a carefully constructed base covered with mulch and soil that will properly irrigate the area in case of flooding.

Bystanders had mixed opinions about the issue.