SILOAM, N.C., – For husband-and-wife driver team Ed Kingdon, Jr. and Deb Kingdon, the opportunity to transport the 2022 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina to Washington, D.C. is a career highlight.
“When I retired from the military in 2018, Deb and I decided to begin careers in something we could do together since our kids were grown,” said Ed. “We love to travel the country and saw truck driving as a job we’d enjoy. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we’d be the ones responsible for delivering the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to D.C. Christmas is such a special holiday to our family, so to have shared this experience with our kids and grandkids who visited the community celebrations as we made our way to the capital was truly memorable.”
Hardy Brothers Trucking, the official U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour carrier, selected the Kingdons, who have driven for the company for more than four years. This year, Deb became the first female driver to help transport the special tree to Washington, D.C. “It was an honor to be selected as one of the drivers and become the first woman driver to haul the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree,” said Deb. “It was an experience of a lifetime.”
The Kingdons used a Kenworth T680 Next Generation 76-inch mid-roof sleeper equipped with the PACCAR Powertrain to transport the 78-foot tall Red Spruce Christmas Tree, nicknamed “Ruby,” to the nation’s capital. The truck also featured the new Kenworth digital mirror system, LED lighting, and advanced driver assistance systems, including Lane Keeping Assist and Torque Assisted Steering. Hardy Brothers Trucking has more than 100 dedicated drivers and 55 Kenworth trucks – including 11 T680 Next Gens.
The 2022 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour, which began Nov. 5 in Fletcher, North Carolina, featured community celebration stops in North Carolina and Virginia as the Kingdons made their way north to Washington, D.C. The tree was delivered to the U.S. Capitol Building on Nov. 18.
For Deb and Ed, hauling oversized cargo such as the Christmas Tree is a first. Driving for Hardy Brothers Trucking, the couple hauls reefer van trailers cross-country, so transporting an extended trailer took some getting used to.
“It was a challenge at first getting comfortable with understanding how much room you need to maneuver such a long truck-trailer combination, especially in the small towns we visited, but we learned quickly,” said Ed. “We mapped out our route ahead of time and the state patrol who escorted us along the way helped us out a lot.”
According to Ed, the Kingdons drive a T680 Next Gen for Hardy Brothers Trucking, so driving Kenworth’s latest long-haul tractor felt natural. “We’ve been driving a Next Gen for Hardy Brothers Trucking for several months now so it was easy to get behind the wheel of this one,” said Ed. “Kenworth did a great job specifying the truck we used during this tour. We spent much of the tour in western North Carolina where it’s very mountainous and the truck handled the steep grades with ease. It did everything we needed it to.”
As a driving team for Hardy Brothers Trucking, the Kingdons spend a lot of time on the road in their T680 Next Gen. They especially enjoyed the unique opportunity to be in immersed in the special transport and to interact with the public during the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour.
“The turnout at the events was great, everyone seemed to be excited to see the tree and sign the trailer,” said Deb. “The tour was far from what we experience in our day-to-day job, and we had so much fun meeting those who came out to enjoy the community celebrations and take part in the joy that comes with the holiday season.”
According to Deb, the tour stop in Cherokee, North Carolina, is what she’ll remember most about her experience on the tour. Cherokee is home to Catcuce Micco Tiger (Coche), a nine-year-old boy and citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Coche was selected as this year’s official lighter of the U.S. Capitol Christmas, which will take place on Nov. 29.
“To embrace the culture of the Cherokee Nation and meet members of the community in Cherokee is something I’ll never forget,” said Deb. “You could feel the sense of pride everyone at this event had about having a tree cut from the Pisgah National Forest be this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree. We can’t wait to see the tree all lit up at the capital.”