Entries in National Christmas Tree (5)


President Obama Lights National Christmas Tree

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With a little help from the first family and a slew of star performers, President Obama lit the new National Christmas Tree Thursday night, continuing 90 years of holiday tradition.

“In times of war and peace, triumph and tragedy, we’ve always come together to rejoice in the Christmas miracle,” the president told a chilly crowd of 17,000 huddled outside on the Ellipse.

“But our tree has been having a hard time recently,” he said.

The giant blue spruce that is now illuminated in bright green lights and ornaments is the third National Christmas Tree in as many years. The long-standing tree was toppled in a storm last year. It was quickly replaced, but that tree didn’t take hold.

“It just goes to show, nobody’s job is safe here in Washington,” Obama joked. “But I feel good about this one. It was planted just days before Hurricane Sandy, and it made it through the storm in one piece.”

The president then paid tribute to the “heroism and perseverance” of those impacted by the superstorm “who’ve showed us that Americans will always be stronger than the challenges that we face.”

He told the story of Midland Beach, N.Y., where the community, ravaged by the storm, rallied together to plant a new Christmas tree. The tree had one message, according to a resident: “It’s Christmas time, not disaster time.”

“For centuries, the message of Christmas — of peace and goodwill to all — has guided millions of people around the world through good times but also through bad times. This year is no different,” Obama said before wishing all Americans a merry Christmas and happy holidays.

The president, joined by the first lady, their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, and the first grandmother, were serenaded by Jason Mraz, James Taylor, Colbie Caillat and The Fray, among others.

TV star Neil Patrick Harris hosted the annual ceremony and ABC’s Modern Family star Rico Rodriguez, better known as Manny, tried to steal his way into the first family in a humorous bit.

As The Fray took to the stage to sing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” lead singer Issac Slade asked the crowd if they’ve been good this year. “Most of the time, most of the time,” the president was caught saying with a grin.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


First Family Lights the National Christmas Tree

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Continuing an 89-year-old tradition, President Obama lit the National Christmas Tree Thursday evening, saying, “We gather here not simply to light the decorations but to honor a story that lights the world.”

The president, who rarely speaks publicly about his faith, reflected on the meaning of Christ’s birth. “He was a manifestation of God’s love for us …  and taught us a message as simple as it is powerful: We should love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. That teaching has come to encircle the globe and has endured for generations. And today it lies at the heart of my Christian faith and that of millions of Americans.”

The president urged the nation to act on that message this holiday season by helping those who need it most, “the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in.”

“This holiday season lets us reaffirm our commitment to each other as family members, as neighbors, as Americans. Regardless of our color, creed or faith, let us remember that we are one,” he said.

Then it was down to business. With his wife, two daughters and first grandmother, Marian Robinson, by his side, the president lit the new, significantly smaller National Christmas Tree. “That’s a good-looking tree,” Obama said.

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. It was replaced by the current 26-foot-tall tree from New Jersey.

“This is the new tree. I know it’s not quite as big as the old tree. It’s going to take time to grow, but we are going to fill it up with spirit and start a new tradition right now,” the president said.

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 tree-lighting has grown significantly as an event. Thursday night’s celebration included performances by tween heartthrobs Big Time Rush -- who gave a special shout-out to Sasha and Malia -- country star Rodney Atkins and Ellie Goulding.

The event also included special appearances by Kermit the Frog, who read a spirited rendition of Twas the Night Before Christmas with the first lady, and, of course, Santa himself.

At the end of the event, the first family joined the performers onstage. The president and Santa, arguably the two most powerful men in the world, stood side by side as everyone sang Walking in a Winter Wonderland. Kermit sang along too, from his perch atop the first lady’s shoulder.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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


National Christmas Tree Toppled by Strong Winds

Photo Courtesy - JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images (file)(WASHINGTON) -- Strong winds across the northeast Saturday forced people to hold on to their hats and newspapers, but the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., was unable to hold its ground.

The tree, which was planted on the Ellipse in 1978, came crashing down shortly before 11 a.m. Saturday, after strong, gusting winds swept through the nation’s capital. Sustained winds were said to be around 25 mph, with gusts around 50 mph when the 48-year-old tree was blown to the ground.

The National Christmas Tree is a Colorado blue spruce that once stood over 42 feet tall, however, by the time the wind was done with it, only four feet of it was left in the ground. The fallen tree will be removed from the grounds and mulched.

Officials tell ABC News that a replacement tree had already been picked out prior to the collapse, and that the 2011 Christmas tree lighting ceremony will happen as planned.

A high wind warning was issued for Washington, D.C., until 9 p.m. Saturday, with forecasts calling for sustained winds of 20-30 mph and wind gusts of up to 60 mph throughout the area.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


The 'Obama Crew' Lights the National Christmas Tree

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The National Christmas Tree was lit Thursday night for the 88th time by the 44th president and his family, “the Obama crew,” as President Obama lovingly referred to his family when they joined him on stage on the Ellipse. The Obamas -- first lady Michelle Obama, Malia, Sasha and “Grandmother-in-Chief” Marian Robinson -- each put a finger on the button, and counting down from five, they pushed the large button to light the tree.

“It works,” Obama exclaimed as the 40-foot Colorado blue spruce was lit up, decked out in lights.

The president called this a “proud holiday tradition,” one that took place with presidents snow or shine, and even in period of hardships for the country.

“Often the ceremony itself has reflected the pain and sacrifice of the times. There were years during the second World War when no lights were hung in order to save electricity. In the days following Pearl Harbor Winston Churchill joined President Roosevelt to wish our nation a happy Christmas even in such perilous days.”

The president said that without fail each year the nation comes together to celebrate the story that he and Michelle hold dear as Christians, but is a message that is universal.

“It’s a message that says no matter who we are or where we are from, no matter the pain we endure or the wrongs we face, we are called to love one another as brother and as sisters.”

The president said that at a time when people try their hardest to live in the spirit of charity and goodwill, “we remember of brothers and sisters who have lost a job or who are struggling to make ends meet, we pray for the men and women in uniform serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and in faraway places who can’t be home this holiday season.”

Mrs. Obama read -- rather clumsily at first -- T'was the Night Before Christmas with children on stage. She skipped a few pages and then announced, “the first lady is taking off her gloves,” pulling her right glove off with her mouth in order to turn the pages easier.

The Obama family sat down in the front of the audience – a change of years past when the First Family has always been seated on stage -- listening to performers such as Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, BB King, Maroon Five and Jackie Evancho, made famous from America’s Got Talent.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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