On December 3, 2009, the National Christmas Tree Lighting will once again provide an opportunity for all Americans to come together to celebrate the season and to share the message of peace.
This year, experience the magic of the National Christmas Tree Lighting without ever leaving your home. Visit www.thenationaltree.org on December 3rd at 5pm ET to watch the show LIVE! Every performance, presenter and holiday festivity from the ceremony will be broadcast online for you to view from wherever you are.
Public television stations nationwide will broadcast the 2009 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony across the country for the first time. In partnership with WETA, Washington, D.C.’s flagship public broadcasting station, public television stations will begin airing the 60-minute lighting ceremony on Friday, December 4th and continue throughout the holiday season. Viewers are invited to check their local public station schedules for exact broadcast dates and times.
Presented by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, and produced by Alex Coletti Productions, an all-star lineup of stars will offer a diverse program of holiday music, including traditional songs with dashes of pop, folk and hip-hop.
Featured artists include:
History of the National Christmas Tree
The first National Christmas Tree, lit on December 24, 1923, in the middle of the Ellipse.
In November 1923, First Lady Grace Coolidge gave permission for the District of Columbia Public Schools to erect a Christmas tree on the Ellipse south of the White House. The organizers named the tree the “National Christmas Tree
That Christmas Eve, at 5 p.m., President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse and “pushed the button” to light the cut 48-foot Balsam fir, as 3,000 enthusiastic spectators looked on. The tree, donated by Middlebury College, was from the President’s native state of Vermont.
From 1924 to 1953 live trees, in various locations around and on the White House grounds, were lit on Christmas Eve. In 1954 the ceremony returned to the Ellipse and expanded its focus. Local civic and business groups created the “Christmas Pageant of Peace.” Smaller live trees representing the 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia, formed a “Pathway of Peace.”
On December 17, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower lit the cut tree donated by the people of Michigan. Cut trees continued to be used until 1973.
Center to the season’s celebration is the living National Christmas Tree, a Colorado blue spruce from York, Pennsylvania, planted on the Ellipse October 20, 1978. The tree stands as a daily reminder of the holiday spirit and of the tradition each succeeding President has participated in since 1923.
President Obama, joined by the First Family and Vice President and Dr. Biden, hosts the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Ellipse. December 3, 2009.
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