Friday, December 5, 2008

Pair Of Christmas Trees Light Up In DC

Two huge Christmas trees lit up the night sky in Washington, D.C., Thursday night, kicking off a week of holiday events and signaling another final event for the George W. Bush White House.

For the final time as president, Bush led the countdown to light the nearly 42-foot Colorado Blue Spruce that overlooks the White House. The National Christmas Tree, planted on the Ellipse in 1978, sparkled with yellow lights and a glowing star.

Before the lights went on, Bush remembered U.S. troops who are risking their lives far from home. Bush also talked on stage with a man dressed as Santa Claus, who sang "When It's Christmas Time in Texas," for the president and first lady, Laura Bush.

First lady Laura gave members of the news media a sneak peak of holiday decorations at the White House on Wednesday. She took reporters on a tour of various rooms all decked out for the holidays and showed them the official White House Christmas tree -- an 18-foot Fraser fir from North Carolina. More than 60,000 visitors are expected to visit the White House for tours, with 25 holiday receptions and seven dinners planned. The Bushes will host almost daily parties during the holiday season.

Every president has presided over the tree lighting since Calvin Coolidge in 1923.

The ceremony kicks off weeks of activities that allow the public to soak in the holiday scene around the White House. Down the road, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led ceremonies leading up to the lighting of the Christmas tree on Capitol Hill.

Entertainers including Rissi Palmer; Jon Secada, Phil Vassar, 4-year-old singer Kaitlyn Maher of "America's Got Talent," Step Afrika! and the United States Army Band accompanied by singers of the Enterprise High School, Ala., Encores were all at the event.

While the official tree holds 369 decorations from artists around the country, the various fir trees scattered throughout the White House have red and blue ornaments from years past. Both trees were decked with energy-efficient lights this year. The tree on Capitol Hill reduced the energy used by 55 percent from last year - it featured 10,000 energy efficient LED lights.


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