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Live video: Watch Boise girl light up the Capitol Christmas tree

O Capitol Christmas tree, how Idaho loves thee

The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, an 80-foot Engelmann spruce from the Payette National Forest, stopped at the Idaho State Capitol on its state tour before heading to the nation's Capitol. Gov. Butch Otter and other dignitaries spoke at festivities
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The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, an 80-foot Engelmann spruce from the Payette National Forest, stopped at the Idaho State Capitol on its state tour before heading to the nation's Capitol. Gov. Butch Otter and other dignitaries spoke at festivities

Boise fifth-grader Isabella Gerard will flip the switch on the Capitol tree Tuesday, lighting an 80-foot Engelmann spruce from Idaho’s Payette National Forest.

Isabella, who’s 10 years old and attends St. Mary’s Catholic School, arrived in Washington on Friday, making her first trip to the city with her parents, sister, grandparents, aunt, uncle and three cousins. Her itinerary included visits to the White House and Smithsonian museums and a tour of the monuments.

At 3 p.m Mountain Time Tuesday, she’ll light the tree, which is adorned with 20 pounds of glitter. With her will be Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo.

Crapo selected the girl for the honor after she wrote a poem titled “Pristine Idaho Mountains,” describing what snow does to the mountains and forests in her state: “making the landscape look like never-ending clouds with skyscrapers covered in snow.”

Isabella said it took her two to three weeks to write the poem as she sorted through “a bunch of ideas.” When she got the word that she had been chosen for the trip to Washington, she said: “I was surprised and, like, really happy.”

Kim Pierson, a district ranger with the Forest Service who coordinated public events during the tree’s 30 stops, said it brought joy to thousands. It cost about $600,000 to move the 2016 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from Idaho to D.C., with corporate sponsors donating most of that for

The 84-year-old tree, cut on Nov. 2 from Little Ski Hill just west of McCall, is just one of many Idaho trees sprucing up the nation’s capital this year. While the arrival of the big tree on a 105-foot-long red truck got all the attention last Monday, Idaho also sent a second truck with another 69 trees, mostly Fraser firs. They were distributed to offices of various members of Congress and federal agencies.

Rob Hotakainen: 202-383-6154, @HotakainenRob

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