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Artificial tree replaces live balsam fir as official Christmas tree at ND Capitol

BISMARCK - North Dakota's holiday tradition of traveling out-of-state for the Capitol Christmas tree has come to a close, replaced by a new artificial tree now on display in Memorial Hall.

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A passer-by checks out the new artificial Christmas tree in the North Dakota Capitol's Memorial Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Bismarck, N.D. (Mike Nowatzki / Forum News Service)

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s holiday tradition of traveling out-of-state for the Capitol Christmas tree has come to a close, replaced by a new artificial tree now on display in Memorial Hall.

Facility Management Director John Boyle said fire code prohibits live trees in commercial buildings, and the Bismarck Fire Department has long wanted the state to get an artificial tree to eliminate the fire hazard.

State lawmakers appropriated $40,000 for an artificial tree in 2013, but Boyle said the state was able to snag the 26-foot plastic tree for $13,000 from Crystal Valley Decorating Inc. of Albany, Ore., through a bidding process.

Unlike the live trees, the artificial “Northwest Conifer” is strung with thousands of LED lights that will illuminate the hall during a formal lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Boyle said it took a five-person crew about 3½ hours to erect the tree Monday evening. They tested the lighting afterward.

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“And it was spectacular,” he said.

Strolling by the tree Wednesday on his way to his office, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he thought it looked “very nice.”

“I would say don’t judge it until you’ve seen it after dark,” he said. “That may be its finest moment.”

For about 40 years, the state had turned to Minnesota or Wisconsin for a balsam fir, chosen for its height and strong branches. The live tree cost about $900, plus the labor it took to haul it into the Capitol, Boyle said, noting it took about 10 people to carry it up the steps.

“We figure this one will pay for itself in 10 years,” he said.

The tree was delivered in August and set up in a maintenance building in October to make sure all of the parts were present and the lights worked, Boyle said.

“We’ve received a lot of great comments on it already that it’s beautiful,” he said.

Related Topics: BISMARCKCHRISTMAS
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