By Tracy Correa
A 7-year-old California boy got to flip the switch today (Dec.6) on the 10,000 lights that adorn the nation’s Christmas tree in Washington D.C.
Johnny Crawford, of Sonora, entered a drawing and won the coveted spot of flip-switcher along with the all-expense paid trip to stand alongside Speaker of the House John Boehner at the 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
The 65-foot white fir tree arrived in Washington on Nov. 28 after a 4,500-mile cross-country trek. It was cut Nov. 5 in the Stanislaus National Forest and traveled on the bed of a semi-truck making spectator stops along the way – including in Manteca, Sacramento, Modesto and Fresno — before heading to Los Angeles and then making its way east.
PG&E was one of the sponsors of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree 2011 tour.
The tree features LED lights and nearly 3,000 ornaments, handcrafted by Californians to reflect this year’s theme, “California Shines,” highlighting the rich cultural and ecological diversity of the Golden State.
Johnny got to assist Boehner with the tree lighting on the Capitol’s west lawn during a ceremony that began about 5 p.m. He won the trip after his name was drawn from the thousands of California children who had the opportunity to make ornaments and enter the contest.
After several speeches from California elected officials, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Reps. Dan Lungren and Jeff Denham, Boehner took the podium with the boy from Sonora.
“He’s not just any 7-year-old, he’s a Cub Scout,” said Boehner as he introduced Johnny, who stood next to him wearing a red sweater. Boehner joked that if anything went wrong with the light switching, Johnny could fix it. Then, the light switch was flipped.
U.S. Forest Service officials notified Johnny and his family of his selection back in October. Johnny told Forest Service spokesman Jerry Snyder at the time that he liked Christmas trees and that he had never been on a plane before, according to a story in The Union Democrat.
The trip was paid for through private donations and covered the cost of flying Johnny, who along with his two siblings is home schooled, along with one of his parents.
This marks the fourth time that the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, often referred to as the “People’s Tree,” comes from California.
After the lighting ceremony, the California State Society celebrated the tree’s arrival at a reception. PG&E is a corporate sponsor of the non-profit organization that helps promote California in the nation’s capital.
Following the lighting ceremony, the Capitol Christmas Tree will be lit from dusk until 11 p.m. each evening through January 1, 2012.
Click here for more information about Capitol Christmas Tree.