This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A Christmas tree will return to the Utah Capitol rotunda this year for the first time since 2008 but it will be artificial, instead of a traditional evergreen.
The Capitol Preservation Board approved that move unanimously on Monday.
Allyson Gamble, the board's executive director, said when the Capitol was renovated, officials stopped using a live Christmas tree.
"Unfortunately, they had caused a lot of damage to the Capitol" as they were brought through the front doors through the years, she said.
Also, the trees often had been tied to columns for bracing. "We made balusters crack and lean in. We can't obviously do that anymore. We also have new fire restrictions in the building, and we can't bring in a live tree."
So the board's staff was asked to explore use of an artificial tree. She said several other state capitols do that, and recommended it.
"A lot of people miss it," she said. "We have a lot of children come to sing in the building that time of year, and there's been a lot of requests and a lot of people are very sad that we don't have that tree anymore."
The board was told that an artificial tree could cost roughly $16,000 to $44,500 depending on how tall it is. It could cost $3,750 to $4,600 to set it up each year. Gamble said that capitol operating funds can cover the cost.