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24 Dec, 2018 00:11

Govt shutdown and crazy climber keep National Christmas Tree dark

Govt shutdown and crazy climber keep National Christmas Tree dark

The National Christmas Tree is likely to be closed to the public on Christmas eve, park services say, as the government shutdown makes it harder for them to repair lights damaged by a man who climbed up the blue spruce on Friday.

The partial shutdown that officially kicked in Friday at midnight has dealt a blow to many national parks and landmarks forcing them to close their doors to visitors at the pinnacle of the holiday season.

Among the prominent attractions that turned away eager visitors was the National Christmas Tree in front of the White House, which came under unexpected attack on Friday, when an "emotionally distressed" man climbed it some 15-20 feet.

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The man stayed in the tree for about an hour before he was talked into climbing down. As he descended, he got tangled in the lights and damaged some of them.

Now, with no funding in sight for the repairs, the Park Service is saying that the tree will remain inaccessible and decidedly un-festive until there is a breakthrough on the Capitol Hill, which happens to be just across the way from the tree itself.

"During the federal government shutdown, the White House Visitor Center and National Christmas Tree site will be closed. Restroom facilities will be closed," they said in a statement.

However, there is still some hope for Christmas mood on the Hill, as the NPS scrambles to find an outside partner to provide the repairs and relighting.

"A possible partnership agreement may allow us to repair and reopen the site during the lapse in appropriations," an NPS spokesperson said as reported by ABC's Washington affiliate WJLA.

Washington state is apparently not following in the footsteps of New York and Arizona, who, despite being hit equally hard by the shutdown, have kept up on the bills for the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon, allowing them to stay open during the weekend.

"Washington may not know how to work together, but Arizona does," Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted in a swipe at the bickering lawmakers.

The shutdown, which is expected to drag on past Christmas with Senate Democrats vehemently refusing to finance US President Donald Trump's border security wall, has affected some 800,000 federal workers, more than half of them are set to continue to work without pay, while the remaining 380,000 will be forced to take unpaid leave.

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