Vermont is a funny place.Not since the Vermont State Fair have I seen such excitement as the buzz created by the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree coming from Vermont this year. In honor of this memorable occasion, our very own Castleton Collegiate Chorale, which I am apart of, was asked to sing at the cutting down ceremony.
Once the announcement was made, I was trying to figure out exactly why this ceremony was such a big deal, and despite their excitement, no one could really seem to answer that question. It became fairly clear fairly quickly that in Vermont, almost any news is big news in comparison to the run-of-the-mill stories about fresh air, farms, and mountains. Bearing this in mind, I assumed that we were in store for a well-organized, enlightening event. Then again, maybe not.
So, at 6:50 a.m., the 55 of us met in front of the Fine Arts Center in our “dressy yet woodsy outfits,” which none of us really understood what that meant, and we all were begrudgingly getting used to a world without Fireside in the mornings.
I think we all clung on to a shred of optimism that this experience would be worth it, but things looked more and more dismal as we trekked via bus to the “top secret” Bennington location. The tree needed to be protected, after all, in case any crazed, anti-Bush liberals decided to attack the tree and ruin Christmas for their fellow happy Americans.
We arrived at our 9 a.m. call time, which served the purpose of standing around, freezing, and being useless, before it was time to walk to the illusive location. As we took baby steps in our woodsy dress clothes in the freezing slushy mud, we envied the third-graders that were sprinting past us in their boots and padding. Well, actually, I wasn’t sure if I envied them for being warmer than us or not being old enough to realize why they were actually there.
After we all managed to arrive at the tree in one piece, those of us from Castleton were thrown beside the tree and all haphazardly clumped together in order to desperately keep warm. The powers that be misinformed us that we would have electricity (in the middle of the forest) to plug in our keyboard and sing the medley we had planned, and even though we weren’t sure how that would work, we took their word for it. Of course there was no electricity when we arrived, so we began singing some a cappella Christmas carols while the down-to-the-core Vermonters filtered in to enjoy the festivities.
After we shivered out some Christmas tunes, we all looked around wondering if we were done and how quickly we could sprint – or trudge rather – back to the bus. It instead became clear that we were staying for the whole ceremony, which began with a speech by a Calvin Coolidge impersonator, who was the 30th president of the United States. Normally I would leave that out, assuming that most people would know that Coolidge has long since passed away, but it became clear once many members of the choir thought it was the actual Calvin Coolidge was speaking that it perhaps isn’t common knowledge for college students. After Cal gave his speech, several other random people, whom none of us could hear due to the lack of electricity, got up to speak, which must have been for contractual purposes rather than quality control, because mostly everyone got up there and talked about Vermont’s lovely green mountains, which isn’t a stereotype at all.
Based on the organization of the day as a whole, I panicked a bit when we were all urged to move away from the machinery trucks, but thankfully we all made it out of there alive, although I was kind of expecting someone to go down for the sake of creating bigger news.
At any rate, maybe Vermont’s tourism rate might go up now that it’s 2007’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree State.
Then again, maybe not.