The following blog is an excerpt from, “100 Years of the National Christmas Tree” by the National Park Foundation.
The ceremony has come a long way from its first iteration in 1923 when President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse to light a 48-foot fir tree while a local choir and a U.S. Marine Band quartet performed. This year, the tree lighting ceremony will welcome an estimated 10,000 visitors including the president and vice president and a host of performers from Shania Twain and Andy Grammer to the U.S. Marine Band.
Hosted in partnership by the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service, the tree lighting tradition transforms President’s Park, also home to the White House. As one of the over 400 sites protected and preserved by the National Park Service, the park has served many purposes throughout the years, from a field for infantry drills to the host to celebrations such as the lighting ceremony. And these days, the park holds both the National Christmas Tree as well as state and territory trees.
The 58 Surrounding Trees
As the name implies, the National Christmas Tree Lighting is a national effort. Surrounding the National Christmas Tree is the America Celebrates display, 58 state and territory trees.
The seven-foot fraser firs are decorated with ornaments from students in that state or territory. Tasked with depicting what makes their state great, the ornaments symbolize the history, heritage, and culture of the students’ homelands. 2021 ornaments ranged from a color pencil recreation of America Samoa’s beaches and skiing in Colorado to farmland in Vermont and crabs in Maryland.
Sourcing the Trees
Just like families across the country head to tree farms and retailers to pick out their perfect family tree, the 58 state and territory trees are carefully sourced from a farm in North Carolina.
Continue reading, “100 Years of the National Christmas Tree” from our friends at the National Parks Foundation here.