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Todd Dills

Hauling the Capitol Christmas tree with driver Duane Brusseau

| November 21, 2013

Capitol Christmas tree, loaded, wrappedNow retired after a career that spanned the better part of five decades, San Jose, Calif.-based Duane Brusseau is in his third year with some involvement in the cross-country haul of the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree. He was the lead driver on the 2011 haul that originated in California, and last year he was codriver of the second rig — pulling a standard 53-ft. van — that accompanied lead driver and Senator Ben Campbell of Colorado, where that tree originated.

2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree lead driver Duane Brusseau

2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree lead driver Duane Brusseau

This year, with the 2014 Mack Pinnacle and expandable long-load trailer at a total 103 feet in length, he’s had his work cut out for him on the long trek with numerous stops across the United States from Northeast Washington State, where the haul originated with the cutting of the tree in Newport. I caught up with him yesterday at the stop here in Nashville, Tenn., in the Macy’s parking lot at Cool Springs Galleria south of town. 

The journey started the 22nd of October, he says, when he and likewise California-based codriver Galon Baker (a current driver for Wal-Mart) flew to Allentown, Pa., to pick up the two specially-wrapped 2014 Mack Pinnacles they’d drive on the haul. “We took them to Washington State to the town of Newport up in the Northeast corner” of the state, he says. “We spent about four or five days there with the cutting of the tree” and the involved process of placing it on the trailer. You’ll remember this picture we posted here a couple weeks back, showing what it looked like before “packaging,” as it were: 

Mack Pinnacle hauling Capitol Christmas tree

And here’s how it’s actually being hauled: 

2013 Capitol Christmas tree trailer

“The tree weighs 10,000 lbs,” says Brusseau, and is 30 ft. wide at the bottom, approximately, and 80 feet tall.” Imagine the work that went into securing the tree in the binding sleeve to fit the standard-width trailer.

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Following such work, Brusseau and Baker have been moving slowly across the country, after “a tour through Washington State,” he says, then into Oregon, Idaho, to Salt Lake City, across Texas into Arkansas and, yesterday, Tennessee. “We’ll be arriving in Washington, D.C., Nov. 25,” Brusseau says. “They’ll unload the tree from the truck and they’ll put it in a five-foot hole, cement it in and tether it. It will take them 5-6 days, then, to decorate it.”

Rear of the van trailer on the Capitol Christmas tree haulIn the 53-ft. van Baker is hauling (pictured, right), Brusseau adds, are “80 eight-foot-tall trees from the Republic, Wash., area. They will go inside the Capitol offices. Also, there’s about six pallets of ornaments made by the schoolchildren of Washington State that will go on the main tree.” In addition, two 25-ft. trees in the van will go inside the U.S. Forest Service offices in D.C. and one other. 

All in all, says, Brusseau, it’s a capital haul for him. His wife, Bobbie, is along for the run, and “it’s a lot of fun,” he says. On the dozens of stops the unit is making, “we see the country, meet lots of great people. I’m retired, so it’s a great retirement project.” 

In the video at the bottom of this post, Brusseau talks briefly about the many signatures schoolchildren and others have added to the 80-ft. banners on either side of the trailer. Find more pictures of the truck and the Nashville signing events in the gallery here. 

[youtube TNj0F28g_0k nolink]

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