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One lucky Idaho student gets to go to Washington, D.C., in December to light the U.S. Capitol Christmas 
Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are holding a multimedia contest to help determine the winner. A resolution approved by the Idaho Legislature notes that the practice of placing a Christmas tree on the west lawn of the Capitol dates back to 1964.
Since 1970, the tree has always come from a national forest. This year the Payette National Forest was selected to do the honors. The architect of the Capitol will choose one 60- to 85-foot-tall tree to serve as "the people's Christmas tree." Another 70 trees will be harvested for placement in other federal office buildings.
The tradition also calls for a youth from the state that provides the tree to serve as a "tree lighting helper," along with the speaker of the Idaho House and other state officials.
As the state's senior senator, Crapo will make the final choice of which Idaho student gets to be the helper. The winner will be flown to Washington, D.C., to participate in the lighting ceremony the week of Dec. 5, with funding coming from private sponsors.
The multimedia contest began Friday and runs through Sept. 30. It's open to Idaho students in grades one through six. All entries must be original and highlight the importance of national forests, while also capturing the theme of the contest, which is "an Idaho Mountain Gem."
Entries can include short essays, poems, songs, video and artwork. Only online submissions will be considered; all selections will be reviewed, with the winner selected at random.
"This contest will challenge Idaho's youth to express their creativity. I look forward to seeing the submissions," Crapo said in a news release.
Specific rules and entry forms are available online at The website also includes information on how people can submit some of the 8,000 handmade Christmas ornaments that will be used to decorate the trees. The ornaments all feature Idaho symbols, such as cutthroat trout, mountain bluebirds and star garnets.