For more than 50 years, a tree has graced the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the holiday season. The Chugach National Forest in partnership with nonprofit Choose Outdoors will bring this special gift from Alaska to Washington, D.C. for the 2015 season with the help of Lynden Transport and its nationally recognized driver John Schank. This is the first time the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will come from Alaska.
The tree will be cut on Oct. 27 and begin its journey with a community celebration in Seward, Alaska before it is prepared for the 4,000-mile expedition by land and sea. With great fanfare, driver John Schank will leave the Chugach National Forest with the tree followed by a caravan of caretakers for the journey to the U.S. Capitol. Two community celebrations will take place in Anchorage at Cabela’s on Oct. 30 and Trick or Treat Street on Oct. 31.
The tree will then be loaded onto a Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) ship for the journey to Seattle. The Seattle celebration and tour kickoff will take place at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) on Sat., Nov. 7. Schank will drive the tree to the event before heading east on the first leg of the Lower 48 tour. Community celebrations are being planned along the way, culminating with the official tree lighting in early December.
“There is no one better to transport this precious cargo – the People’s Tree – than our veteran driver John Schank,” says Lynden Transport President Paul Grimaldi. “Lynden is an Alaska-based company and our roots run deep in the state. We are proud to be entrusted with the delivery of the national Christmas tree and delighted to support the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree tour which provides communities with the opportunity to celebrate the spirit of the season. John will do a great job – just as he does every day he drives for Lynden.”
Schank was recognized as the 2014 Driver of the Year by the Alaska Trucking Association (ATA) and received a letter of commendation from former Alaska Governor Sean Parnell for 37 years of accident-free driving over the treacherous Dalton Highway linking Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Schank has logged 5 million miles on the highway – more than any other driver in history.
Lynden Transport is a major sponsor of the project along with in-kind services, donations and overall support both locally and nationwide from Shell Oil, Alaska Airlines, Skybitz, Alaska Railroad, Alaska Crane, Granite Construction Company, ReThink Wood, Truckload Carriers Association, TOTE Maritime Alaska, Hale Trailer, Kenworth Truck Company and others.
“This historic journey is only possible with the help of strong community partnerships throughout Alaska and beyond state lines,” said Bruce Ward, founder of Choose Outdoors. “We’re grateful for the time and resources Lynden Transport is providing to help make this the best tour to date.”