Briana Heaney Published

Randolph County Fourth Grader To Light U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree 

Boy walks by man on a stool with a crowd of kids behind them.
Ethan Reese with Gov. Jim Justice at the West Virginia State Capitol.
Courtesy of Samantha White

Ethan Reese, a 4th grade student from Randolph County, will light the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.  

The Beverly Elementary School student has a deep connection to the Monongahela National Forest, where this year’s U.S. Capitol tree came from. His great-great-grandfather Arthur Wood was one of the first superintendents there. 

“I think my great-great-grandfather Arthur would be so happy that I’m talking about his family history,” Reese said.

Reese said he and his family love to visit the park to view wildlife, bird watch and identify different plants and animals, and he hopes to be part of a generation to keep the forest a preserved public land for the future. 

“I really hope that they’ll still be protected by the national forest guard. Wildlife preserves, and I just hope people take good care the forest,” he said.

4-H, a club for kids and teens to develop leadership skills and become productive citizens, chose Reese through an essay contest. Reese’s mother Amanda said her son is a fourth generation member of the 4-H club. 

“His great-grandmother, his grandmother, myself and his aunt have all been in the same 4H club that’s about to turn 100 years old,” she said.

The Capitol tree, otherwise known as the “People’s Tree,” is different from the National Tree. The National Tree also came out of West Virginia, having been timbered at the Monongahela National Forest, and will be lit by the First Family and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.

The Capitol tree will be lit by Ethan Reese and is adorned with 5,000 ornaments made by youth and volunteers. 

“Ethan has a great connection to this tree and where it came from,” Amanda Reese said. 

The ceremony for the tree lighting will be at 5 p.m. EST on Nov. 28.