While the holiday season may be the furthest thing on the minds of hikers enjoying Oregon's Willamette National Forest this summer, a new campaign may leave some of them humming Christmas carols.
In celebration of the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, the Willamette Valley Visitors Association has hidden some 200 glass ornaments along the non-wilderness trails of the sprawling Willamette National Forest. The hunt comes on the heels of the Sweet Home Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest being chosen to select the massive conifer that will grace the West Lawn of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
"Majestic, towering conifers have long stood as an icon of Oregon's magnificent forests," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement. "This tree will symbolize our rich natural resources, our deep Native American heritage, and the people of Oregon, who are known for their independent spirit, innovation and love for our state's diverse landscapes."
Anyone who finds an ornament can register it online for a chance to win one of 120 prizes or a grand prize trip to Washington, D.C., for the lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. (Photo: U.S. National Forest Service - Willamette National Forest)
In an effort to encourage outdoor recreation and place more eyes on possible candidates for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, the hidden ornaments will also come with tags that, once registered, could earn additional prizes. All lucky finders will be enrolled for the grand prize: A trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighting and festivities.
As for the tree, the chosen conifer will be cut in early November and then shipped on a 3,000-mile trek across the U.S. that will trace the original Oregon Trail in reverse. Some 10,000 handmade ornaments created by Oregonians throughout 2018 will accompany the tree on its coast-to-coast journey.
The ornament hunt in the Willamette National Forest will run through Oct. 2.