Truck Driver Theron Schmalzried: Delivery of a lifetime – driving Capitol Christmas tree from Colo. to DC

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I’ve been a truck driver for more than 40 years, but my current delivery is a very special one. For the past two weeks, I, along with my colleague Butch Hanna, have traveled over 2,000 miles with a 55-foot tall and 25-foot wide Engelman Spruce tree in tow, as we work to safely deliver the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington, D.C. this year.

Each year, one trucking company is selected from over 500,000 trucking companies nationwide to transport the tree, an annual gift to the nation from one of our national forests. The opportunity to deliver the Capitol Christmas Tree, from my home state of Colorado to the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The truck with U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in tow pictured while parked in Norwood, Colorado on November 10. Photo credit: James Edward Mills

Our journey began at the tree-cutting ceremony in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests on November 5.

After the tree was loaded onto a decorated Kenworth truck, my colleague Butch and I began our cross-country route, making stops and spreading holiday cheer in ten communities along the way.

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At each of the stops, community members gathered to see the “The People’s Tree,” which is decorated with over 10,000 handmade ornaments provided by Coloradans. 

The Capitol Christmas Tree is an important symbol for the American people, and this year, in particular, we could all use a little extra holiday cheer. Seeing the joy in people’s eyes and knowing that I am helping spread a little holiday spirit throughout the communities we stopped in is what has made this journey a delivery of a lifetime.

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As we make our final stop at the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building, I feel extremely honored to represent the trucking industry and my company, Apex Transportation, to make this delivery.

Theron Schmalzried, left, and Butch Hanna, right, the two professional truck drivers transporting the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, pictured at the tree cutting ceremony in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests on November 5. Photo credit: James Edward Mills

I hope that the tree, shining brightly on the lawn of our nation’s capital, will help make the holiday season a little brighter for my fellow Americans this year.

For me, there is no greater feeling than knowing our deliveries and the work of the trucking industry is making a difference in our communities.

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I take great pride in being part of the trucking industry, especially this year, during a year where the industry really stepped up to deliver to our fellow Americans in need.

The truck traveling through Ouray, Colorado on November 11. Photo credit: James Edward Mills

At the start of the pandemic, when the delivery of everyday necessitates, such as food, medication and supplies, reached a new level of importance, America’s truck drivers were there to meet an increase in demand for deliveries to our grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals – and even our doorsteps.

Since the first shutdown and through the long, uncertain weeks under the quarantine orders, and now, as we navigate a rise in cases in states nationwide, trucking has remained resilient on the front lines – serving as a critical link to keep the supply chain strong and make sure our communities are equipped to face the coronavirus.

The truck traveling through Paonia, Colorado on November 12. Photo credit: James Edward Mills

While the deliveries of essential goods become even more critical during times of crisis, a truck driver’s daily job hasn’t changed much since the start of the pandemic.

Every day, over 3.5 million professional truck drivers travel America’s road to deliver the goods we rely on to every corner of America.

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The food at your holiday celebration, the sweater on your back and the gas in your car were all delivered to your community by a truck driver. With the support of the industry’s drivers, technicians, vendors and partners, the 7.8 million professionals that make up the trucking industry keep our stores stocked and communities supplied – not just in times of crisis or need, but year-round.

I’m proud to be part of an industry that keeps our lives supplied and our country moving forward each and every day.

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