An 80-foot Engelmann spruce chosen to be the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree will have an escort befitting its colossal stature — a 6-ton Russet Burbank on wheels — as it travels from the Payette National Forest in Idaho to Washington, D.C.
Idaho Potato Commission President and CEO Frank Muir announced the latest publicity effort planned for his organization’s replica spud, called the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck, at the Idaho Grower Shippers Association’s annual meeting on Sept. 1.
Each year, the U.S. Forest Service cuts the so-called People’s Tree from a different national forest and displays it on the west lawn of the Capitol. Idaho last received the honor in 2003.
“To us, it’s going to be the biggest public relations stunt they’ve ever had because Idaho is a national brand, and the potato coming out of Idaho will make the tree more famous than the tree by itself,” Muir said.
A Forest Service team identified a dozen candidate trees, and the superintendent of grounds from the Architect of the Capitol flew to Idaho in late July to select the People’s Tree and two alternates. The tree will be cut Nov. 2, and its journey will launch on Dec. 4.
The potato truck is wrapping up a fifth nationwide tour, which has already included over-the-top media stunts such as floating the truck on a barge past the Statue of Liberty. The ongoing tour will cover 27 states, about 1,000 cities and 28,000 miles.