Friday, December 10, 2010

The National Christmas Tree: A Green of Lights

National Tree on The Ellipse (park on the south side of the White House)
On the way back from the Kennedy Center, the taxi driver commented about the tree lighting ceremony near the White House the night before. He recommended I see the tree and lights which I didn't even think of planning to do. That was my cue to request for a detour to Pennsylvania Ave to see the National Christmas Tree.  

Despite the late hour of 10pm, others had the same idea as I approached the swell of the crowd around the tree. Like a star in the dark of night, the glow of the tree lights was inspiring. The tree is a Colorado blue spruce planted in 1978 when the tree was 15 years old and 30 feet tall. Today the tree stands almost 42 feet tall. Prior to 1978 cut trees served as the National Tree. Dotted around the tree were smaller lit trees representing each of the U.S. states and territories.

The tradition of the National Tree began in 1923 when President Calvin Coolidge pushed the button to light the first tree, a cut Balsam fir. Since this tradition began, each president has participated in the lighting of the tree. More info at

After braving the crowds and the freezing temperature it was very quick walk back to the Hilton Garden Inn but not before pausing at the White House and the courtyard of the Willard Intercontinental to soak up the holiday feel of the evening.

White House from Pennsylvania Ave.
Courtyard at the Willard


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