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MN loses a Christmas tree customer as North Dakota goes plastic

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After years of importing its holiday tree from the north woods of Minnesota and Wisconsin, Bismarck has said auf wiedersehen to the live Tannenbaum.

A new tradition is starting in North Dakota's Capitol building this year as the state prepares to light an artificial Christmas tree in Memorial Hall for the first time.

Forum News Service reports that for the last 40 years or so North Dakota has brought in a big balsam fir from the forests of Minnesota or Wisconsin to serve as the state's holiday tree.

But putting a live tree in a commercial building violates the state's fire code. This year the state fire marshal can finally enjoy the tree instead of having to look the other way.

Forum News says after years of prodding by Bismarck's fire department, the state purchased a 26-foot-tall tree – a model known as the Northern Conifer – from an Oregon company called Crystal Valley Decorating for $13,000.

Facility Management Director John Boyle tells the news service it took five people 3 1/2 hours to install the fake tree in advance of a lighting ceremony scheduled for Tuesday.

The Associated Press reports that forest-cut trees were illuminated with floodlights because of the fire risk. But the new tree has been strung with thousands of LED lights.

KXNews says the state's residents donated 300 handmade ornaments to the North Dakota Council of the Arts to use in decorating the new tree.

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Minnesota's production of handsome Christmas trees gained a national stage last year when a white spruce from the Chippewa National Forest became the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

Growers say favorable weather has made this a good year for Minnesota's trees.

North Dakota's ceremony to light its new artificial tree is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8.

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