The search for the perfect Christmas tree to showcase on the Governor’s Mansion lawn in Jefferson City is a task that begins in the summer. Holly Dentner with the Missouri Department of Conservation says the agency has been sourcing the mansion trees for about 30 years. She informs the public about the search process around August.
About one dozen trees were considered for the First Family’s lawn this year. The owners send pictures of their tree to the department and then several people narrow down the process.
“So it’s completely voluntary. We are counting on people to offer their trees,” says Dentner. “And really, most people are just excited. Instead of just getting chopped down and mulched up, their tree is going to be on the mansion lawn and thousands of people are going to see it,” she says.
There are certain requirements the tree must meet to be in the running. It must be a native species to Missouri – a Norway spruce, white pine or eastern red cedar.
“We tend to lean toward Norway spruces because those are the big full, bushy evergreens that are most typically a Christmas tree style – the conical shape,” she says. “And then we’re looking for one that is at least 35-40 feet tall because it’s got to take up some space on the mansion lawn and look like it’s been there forever and be fully branched. One of the things that we frequently encounter is people have a great tree, but it’s been growing right up against their house. So, if we cut it down, it will have a gap in one side.”
The tree must also be one that can be accessed well with a flatbed truck and without utility lines nearby.
A 40-foot Christmas tree will be placed on the Governor’s mansion lawn between 7:00-8:00 a.m. Monday and will remain there for the holiday season. A crane will unload and lift the Norway spruce from the truck bed and carefully heave it onto the First Family’s turf.
This year’s tree hails from southeast Missouri. Doris Baker of Desloge donated it.
Dentner says submissions come from all over the state from Missourians who want to have their tree seen by thousands at the mansion over the holiday time.
“I had one semi-decent one a couple years ago from Cape Girardeau but that’s probably as far south as I’ve seen them,” says Dentner. “I haven’t seen any from southwest Missouri now that I think either – we haven’t had a big number. Most of them are north of the Missouri River, strangely enough.”
Two other smaller Christmas trees are inside the mansion this year, including a 17-foot tree for the staircase.
The annual lighting of the mansion lawn tree will be this Friday at 6:00 p.m. followed by the traditional Candlelight Tours.
The tours will run until 8 p.m. on Friday and again Monday, December 7 through Wednesday, December 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Due to COVID-19, this year’s tours will be by reservation only. Additional details will be provided this week.
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