More than 300 ornaments, a tribal blessing and 200 miles of travel bring holiday cheer to the Capital
JUNEAU, Alaska –A tradition that goes back five years, the Together Tree brings holiday cheer to the Governor’s Mansion through collaboration and community. USDA Forest Service employees worked to select the perfect tree, schools in local Southeast communities crafted ornaments, a local tribe offered a blessing, and the U.S. Coast Guard assisted with transport.
This year’s tree is a 14-foot lodgepole pine harvested from Etolin Island on the Wrangell Ranger District of the Tongass National Forest. More than 300 ornaments made by students from the Ketchikan School District adorn the tree.
“We are helping each other out and working across islands and communities to get this beautiful tree and ornaments to the Governor’s House,” said Clint Kolarich, Wrangell district ranger. “From the blessing by our local Tribe to the Coast Guard helping with transport, forest employees scouting the perfect tree and school groups making ornaments, this is what the Together Tree is all about.”
Blessed by Lu Knapp, Wrangell Cooperative Association Council Member and Virginia Oliver, Wrangell High School Tlingit teacher and Wrangell Cooperative Association Appointed Secretary, the tree began its journey from Wrangell to Juneau on Nov. 18 via the Coast Guard Cutter Elderberry.
“The crew and I were extremely honored to have been a part of this very important holiday mission,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Garrett Kravitz, officer-in charge, Coast Guard Cutter Elderberry. “Delivering this year’s Together Tree to Juneau reinforces the bond the Coast Guard shares with our local, state, tribal and federal partners and highlights the importance teamwork plays in serving and safeguarding Alaskan residents and communities.”
The Together Tree will be on display at the Governor’s Mansion for their open house Dec. 7 and throughout the holiday season.