A 15-foot lodgepole pine was loaded onto the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Anthony Petit in Ketchikan on Thursday, Nov. 30, continuing the Together Tree tradition into its seventh year. The tree is being delivered to the Governor’s Residence in Juneau in time for the annual Holiday Open House scheduled from 3-6 p.m. Dec. 12.
Since 2017, the Tongass National Forest has partnered with the state of Alaska, the U.S. Coast Guard, communities in Southeast, and the Alaska Native peoples to deliver a tree and locally made ornaments for the governor’s Open House, and to be displayed through the holiday season. The effort is meant to highlight the important relationships among federal, state, tribal and local entities in Southeast Alaska.
“We’ve done this on numerous districts over the years, and every time our staff enjoys it,” said Tongass National Forest Supervisor Frank Sherman. “They love showcasing the fantastic communities we live and work in.”
The tree was harvested from the Silvis Lake area by staff of the Ketchikan Misty Fjords Ranger District. A blessing was given before harvest by Ken Truitt of the Tongass People, representing Cape Fox Corporation.
Ornaments for the tree were created by fifth-grade students from Houghtaling Elementary School and students from the Pioneer Home Indian Education Preschool. They were delivered along with the tree for transport to Juneau by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy and First Lady Rose Dunleavy will host the Open House, along Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom and her husband Kit Dahlstrom.
This year’s event will feature 21,350 cookies, 79 pounds of toffee and brittle, 57 pounds of chocolate and 50 pounds of fudge. Alaska’s state commissioners will also serve hot cider to all visitors.
Holiday music will be performed by students from Floyd Dryden Middle School, Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and Thunder Mountain High School.
The first open house was held by Territorial Governor Walter Eli Clark and his family on New Year’s Day 1913. The annual tradition has been held every year since, apart from two years during World War II and in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Individuals with special accessibility needs can contact Maxine Lucero at (907) 465-3500, to arrange entry from 2:15-2:30 p.m.