The history behind the capital Christmas tree

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ALBANY, NY (WENY) — Starting in 1976, this year marks the 46th year of the capital Christmas tree tradition. Every year the tree is selected from New York families who apply to have their tree displayed outside the capital.

“It’s part of what makes it special. It’s not coming from a tree farm; it’s coming from people who are giving a little piece of their home and their back yard so the rest of the capital region can benefit from it,” said Jeanette Moy, Commissioner for the Office of General Services.

Each year there are about 40 to 60 applications from families across the state. Before the tree of the year is chosen, the grounds keeping crew from the Office of General Services looks through the applications and visits the trees to inspect the needles, the branches, and the overall health of the tree.

Moy said they want to be sure the tree is not only full and reminiscent of holiday joy but that it’s healthy enough to make it through the entire holiday season.

This year there are two capital Christmas trees, each 40 feet tall. One is a Blue Spruce that came from a family in Voorheesville, a village a little outside Albany County. And the other is a Norway Spruce from a family in Schenectady.

“They’re both beautiful. I mean every year I think the trees look fantastic but this year they really are quite majestic,” Moy said.

The trees were put up on the capital about two weeks ago. The Office of General Services grounds team used a crane, a tractor trailer, and other heavy duty tools to get the tree standing and secured. The trees are strung with over two thousand LED lights that run on timers during the holiday season.

Moy said that this year in particular is a special year for the capital Christmas tree because, following the pandemic, there are more people outside ready to enjoy the tree and the ice skating in front of it.

The capital Christmas tree was lit on Sunday around 5:15 p.m.


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