In what should have been the 94th annual Trek to the Nation’s Christmas Tree, the pandemic ensured that the 2020 Trek to the General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park was a virtual visit. Since the annual Trek to the Tree, started by Charles Lee of the Sanger Chamber of Commerce in 1925, was cancelled, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks wanted to honor the traditional December ceremony by placing a wreath at the base of the General Grant Tree, which is also the only living National Shrine in the U.S.
This year, during the event that was attended by one park ranger and Sequoia-Kings Canyon’s public information officer, the honor of placing the wreath went to Ryan Thomas, Cedar Grove subdistrict ranger. Thomas, currently stationed in Grant Grove, is a former veteran; he served in the Air Force from 2003 to 2007.
The wreath was placed at the base of the General Grant Tree on Friday, December 11.
Here are some key dates for understanding the importance of the annual event and the significance of a cultural resource that is a living shrine.
1924 — R.J. Senior of Sanger, Calif. while visiting the General Grant Tree, hears a little girl say what a wonderful Christmas Tree the Grant Tree would be.
1925 — Senior, and Charles Lee also of Sanger, organized the first Christmas program held at the Grant Tree on Christmas Day.
1926 — Charles Lee, on behalf of the Sanger Chamber of Commerce wrote to President Calvin Coolidge, who designated the General Grant Tree as the Nation’s Christmas Tree, on April 28, 1926.
1956 — Congress, by public law 441, designated the General Grant Tree a National Shrine. On November 11, 1956, the tree was dedicated a perpetual shrine to those who have died in the nation’s wars.
2019 — The Sanger Chamber of Commerce made its 93rd Annual Trek to the Tree on the second Sunday in December like it has done every year since 1925.
As a special tribute to the tradition of the annual Trek to the Tree, the Sanger Chamber of Commerce produced a video of the 2020 ceremony for all to enjoy this holiday season.
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