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Hurricane Sandy challenges National Christmas Tree

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Click on photo to enlarge or download: A semi-truck brings the new National Christmas Tree to its new home on the Ellipse just as the sun was rising Saturday morning. SHFWire photo by Tanya ParkerClick on photo to enlarge or download: A semi-truck brings the new National Christmas Tree to its new home on the Ellipse just as the sun was rising Saturday morning. SHFWire photo by Tanya ParkerWASHINGTON – As Hurricane Sandy closed in on Washington, the newly planted National Christmas Tree stood tall and strong Monday.

The 29-foot Colorado blue spruce was planted Saturday morning on the Ellipse near the White House.

The National Park Service chose the tree based on its overall uniform beauty, health and and where it was grown. A private owner in Virginia sold the tree to the National Park Service. The tree was uprooted and transported to Washington Oct. 5.

This tree replaces the previous tree that died from transplant shock in May after only one Christmas season. The tree before that grew on the Ellipse for many years.

John Stanwich, National Park Service deputy liaison to the White House, said many people are questioning the decision to plant the tree before Sandy hits the hardest. However, he said horticultural experts believe the tree will survive the storm.

Click on photo to enlarge or download: Stabilizing wires will help keep the tree rooted in place during windstorms like Hurricane Sandy, shown Monday about midday as rain fell but before strong winds arrived. SHFWire photo by Tanya ParkerClick on photo to enlarge or download: Stabilizing wires will help keep the tree rooted in place during windstorms like Hurricane Sandy, shown Monday about midday as rain fell but before strong winds arrived. SHFWire photo by Tanya Parker“Unfortunately, we weren’t aware of the storm on Oct. 5, but our horticultural experts really feel very strongly that the best place to bring this tree right now would be to the site, where it will be properly taken care of,” Stanwich said. “There is a system in place, too, to provide stabilization to it.”

Stanwich said workers will continue to monitor the tree to make sure the stabilization system is holding out.  

“We really feel very strongly that we will make sure that this tree gets all the care it can and all the watching as well,” he said. “As much as we can to safeguard it for its future.”

The 90th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony takes place Thursday, Dec. 6, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Reach reporter Tanya Parker at Tanya.Parker@shns.com or 202-326-9871. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.

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