Members of Grand Junction’s Brush and Palette Club created these ornaments for the Capitol Christmas Tree.

Members of Grand Junction’s Brush and Palette Club recently participated in a special Colorado event: the painting of ornaments for the 2020 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree for the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

The Brush and Palette Club group was started more than 73 years ago to help create The Art Center in Grand Junction.

More than 3,000 ornaments are needed to decorate the tree and the smaller trees surrounding it.

Eight talented artists in the club gathered to paint their share of ornaments: Jeanette Falconetti, Jan Falter, Sharon Hutchings, Janice Kiehl, Raechel Kolb, Penny Pallister, Connie Syas and Carol Weckerly-Hanson.

Media included acrylic paint, watercolor paint, markers and ink pens.

The tree comes from one of our nation’s 155 national forests, and this year the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests of the U.S. Forest Service are providing the tree in partnership with Choose Outdoors and the state of Colorado.

This year’s tree is an Engelmann spruce. It stands 55 feet tall and measures 25 feet wide and was chosen from among 10 candidates.

It is symmetrical, full and in the perfect scale to decorate the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

The tree was harvested on Nov. 5, then began its journey to Washington, D.C. It will stop for viewing in eight Colorado cities, and Grand Junction is one of them.

The tree will be at the Grand Junction Convention Center, 159 Main St., from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Visitors will have the opportunity to take photos, sign banners on the sides of the truck, learn more about the GMUG National Forests and the state of Colorado.

Festivities are free and open to the public. Face coverings are required for all events, and social distancing will be maintained. Monitor the website at www.uscapitolchristmastree.com/tour for the latest updates. The schedule and times may change. After one stop in North Carolina, the tree is scheduled to arrive at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 20.

The Capitol grounds and arboretum team will decorate the tree with thousands of handcrafted ornaments from the people of Colorado.

The tree will be lit in early December, an annual and time-honored tradition of more than 50 years.

The tradition began in 1964 when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John W. McCormack, D-Mass., placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. That tree lived three years.

In 1970, the capitol architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to supply a Christmas tree. Every year after, a different national forest has been chosen to provide “The People’s Tree.”

The chosen national forest also coordinates with state forests to provide smaller Christmas trees for offices in Washington, D.C.

To join in the Christmas spirit, visit www.uscapitolchristmastree.com and @uscapitolchristmastree on Facebook and Instagram.

The Brush and Palette Club welcomes artists of all levels. For information on the club, go to gjbrushandpalette.org.

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