Wednesday evening, December 6th, the 79-foot Engelmann Spruce from Montana's Kootenai Forest became the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

The lighting ceremony was co-hosted by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Montana Senator Jon Tester invited Bozeman 6th Grader Ridley Brandmayr to push the button that lit the tree. Tester, who lost fingers in a childhood accident picked Ridley because he had lost a hand in a recent accident. Tester praised Brandmayr's courage in recovering from his accident and commented that, with similar accidents, it was possible that Ridley might become a U.S. Senator, too.

Senator Steve Daines and Congressman Greg Gianforte helped celebrate the Montana gift to the nation.

Speaker Ryan and Ridley then counted down to the tree lighting. The tree traveled 3,500 miles, courtesy of Larry Spiekermeier of Whitewood Transportation. The brightly lit tree is now on the West Lawn of the Capitol building with over 12,000 ornaments, handmade by Montana citizens. A custom tree skirt was quilted by Shawna Crawford of Lewistown. Washington Corporation, Split Mountain Metal and Western Montana Lighting provided a 5-foot tall copper star atop the tree.

Merry Christmas to Washington, D.C., from Big Sky Country!