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79-foot Montana Christmas tree lit outside US Capitol

The 2017 Capitol Christmas Tree is lit Wednesday on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The Capitol Christmas Tree has been a tradition since 1964, and this year's tree was chosen from Kootenai National Forest in Montana. (Andrew Harnik / AP)
The 2017 Capitol Christmas Tree is lit Wednesday on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The Capitol Christmas Tree has been a tradition since 1964, and this year's tree was chosen from Kootenai National Forest in Montana. (Andrew Harnik / AP)
Associated Press

WASHINGTON– A Christmas tree that was transported more than 3,600 miles from Montana’s Kootenai National Forest has been lit on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Ridley Brandmayr, an 11-year-old Bozeman boy, lit the 79-foot tree during a ceremony Wednesday evening. The Engelmann Spruce was cut in November and features 12,500 handmade ornaments.

The tradition started in 1964 when Speaker of the House John McCormack placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. Nowadays, a different National Forest is chosen each year to provide “The People’s Tree.”

Montana Sen. Jon Tester chose Brandmayr to light the tree because of the boy’s perseverance following a kitchen accident in which he lost the fingers on his right hand. Tester lost three fingers when he was a boy.

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