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Nation’s Christmas tree to visit Dahlonega

Spruce to adorn US Capitol will pass through North Georgia next week

POSTED: November 18, 2010 12:30 a.m.
David J. Swift /For The Times

Jeff Underwood, left, owner of Jeff Underwood Trucking, and Mark Fortner stand with the truck transporting The Capitol Christmas Tree to its destination on the U.S. Capitol's front lawn in Washington, D.C. Underwood will bring the tree through Dahlonega, where his company is based, for an official stop to kick off a three-day celebration that will include concerts and other Christmas events, Wednesday through Nov. 26 in Dahlonega's downtown square.

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What do Georgia, Wyoming and Washington, D.C., have in common?

Each has a special role in the planning and transport of this year's U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which will pass through Dahlonega, its only Georgia stop, this Wednesday.

Jeff Underwood of Dahlonega, owner of Jeff Underwood Trucking, took on the task of driving the truck that will bring the tree, an Englemann spruce taken from Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest, to its final destination on the West front lawn of the Capitol.

Sometime between 3 and 5 p.m. Wednesday, Underwood will roll into Dahlonega for a celebration that will include a concert by local musician Freddie Way, a live nativity scene and a chance for local residents to see the 67-foot tree.

Stephen Smith, tourism director for the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce, said the Capitol Christmas Tree celebration is a perfect fit for Dahlonega.

"We've gotten very excited about having the tree with us for a couple of days," Smith said.

"Dahlonega's a special place, anyway, and during the holiday months, we decorate the square, and it's something out of a storybook, really," he said, adding that volunteers worked to decorate the square earlier this year in preparation for the tree's arrival.

Smith said Thanksgiving Day will be a day for shopping on the downtown square. Some merchants will open from 1-5 p.m., with concerts by another local singer, Kurt Thomas, and other musicians, and a chance to see the tree before Underwood continues his trek the morning of Nov. 26.

"They'll have banners and folks can come and sign their Christmas well-wishing and send some thoughts up to Washington, D.C.," said Smith.

"They've been getting the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree out of a different national forest for 40 years. Out of the 40-year history, it has never been through Georgia," said Underwood, who will bring his wife, Cindy, and his children, Samuel, 10, and Mary Ann, 8, along when he continues his trip from Dahlonega to D.C.

"The people, everywhere we pull in, people are just so nice," Underwood said.

"They just can't wait to see the tree and sign the banners ... I tell you what, it's just been real, real good," he said.



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