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Christmas tree tour dates announced

CASS LAKE - For the past 50 years, a tree has appeared on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. during the holiday season. The U.S. Forest Service, in partnership with Choose Outdoors and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, will bring this year's tree from Minnesota to Washington, D.C. for the 2014 season, involving nearly 30 communities along the way.

"This annual tradition provides the opportunity for communities to celebrate the spirit of the season and the forests that connect us all," said Darla Lenz, forest supervisor of the Chippewa National Forest. "It is truly an honor that the Chippewa National Forest was selected to provide this year's U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and we are extremely proud to share a tree that represents Minnesota's natural resources.

The tree - an 80-foot plus white spruce — will leave the Chippewa National Forest followed by a caravan of caretakers for the journey to the U.S. Capitol.

"From Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest all the way to Washington D.C., the 2014 Capitol Christmas Tree will showcase our state's natural beauty in communities across the country," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in a news release.

The tree will be cut during a public ceremony Oct. 29 and will then be moved to Bemidji State University, where it will be prepared for the nearly 2,000-mile cross-country expedition.

Seventy companion trees will be provided by the Minnesota Tree Growers Association to decorate the inside of the U.S. Capitol building and other sites throughout Washington, D.C., along with 10,000 ornaments created by children and others in Minnesota.

The tree lighting is expected to occur in early December, as determined by the Rep. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, and will be broadcast on C-SPAN.

For news, updates, tour information and to track the tree cross-country, visit www.capitolchristmastree.com.

Among the northern Minnesota stops on the Christmas Tree Route are Itasca State Park and Bemidji (Nov. 2), and Walker and Cass Lake (Nov. 3).

Dates are subject to change. Additional stops may be added.

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