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Obama Will Light New National Christmas Tree

Robert Shafer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will officially light the National Christmas Tree on Thursday evening, inaugurating a new, significantly smaller, tree on the Ellipse and continuing a tradition 89 years in the making.

While the White House is eager to cut federal costs, this year’s tree was not a recession-friendly effort by the Obama administration. The 40-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce that had served as the national tree for 32 years was snapped in half by strong winds in February. The new, 26-foot-tall tree from New Jersey will make its grand debut as the National Christmas Tree on Thursday.

The tradition to have a national tree began in 1923 when President Calvin Coolidge lit 2,500 electric bulbs on a 48-foot balsam fir on Christmas Eve. Since then, the event has grown significantly. Thursday night’s lighting ceremony will include performances by Big Time Rush, the Black Eyed Peas, and Kermit the Frog.

The holiday season has officially arrived at the White House. Thursday’s tree lighting comes one day after the White House holiday decorations and this year’s theme -- “Shine, Give, Share” -- were unveiled to the public.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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