While New York City has the ginormous tree in Rockefeller Center, we here in DC, we have three trees of relevance: 1) The Christmas tree displayed in front of the Capitol Building 2) The indoor White House Christmas Tree and 3) The outdoor White House Christmas Tree.
This year, the Capitol Christmas Tree was lit on December 7, in a small ceremony by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Daniel, a Wyoming school boy, helped with the tree lighting as a result of him willing a contest. This year’s tree, a 67 foot, 6,000 pound Engelmann Spruce, was donated by the state of Wyoming. The 24-inch tree trunk was fitted with a watering sock, which fed it 65 gallons of water a day on its 4,590 mile trip to Washington, DC. Decorated with 5000 handmade ornaments from Wyoming school children and thousands of LED lights, the tree will remain lit though the Christmas holiday and until New Year’s Eve. The event could be watched live online.
The National Christmas Tree stands on the White House lawn and was lit last night, December 9, by the President, launching the month long festivities known as the Pageant of Peace. For 30 years, from 1942-1972, a newly cut tree was delivered each year for display. But in 1973, in response to environmentalists and individuals alike, a 42-foot blue Colorado spruce, donated by the state of Pennsylvania was planted on the Ellipse, starting the tradition of having a living tree serve as the National Christmas Tree. Unfortunately, this one deteriorated and the subsequent one was torn down in a wind storm. In 1978, another Colorado blue spruce was planted, which has served as the National Christmas Tree since that year.
In 1995, the Tree was lit by solar energy for the first time and in 2007, LED Christmas lights were used. At that time, the tree topper was refurbished to also use the LED lights.
The White House Christmas Tree, also known as the Blue Room Christmas Tree, was delivered this year by horse drawn carriage and given two thumbs up by the first daughters. The 18 1/2-foot tree travelled from Pennsylvania’s Crystal Spring Tree Farm, which also provided the 2006 tree. The tree is chosen through a contest among the members of the National Christmas Tree Association and because of the height of the tree, which stands nearly 20 feet tall, the crystal chandelier in the Blue Room must be removed for the tree to fit. The theme of the White House Christmas Tree is selected by the First Lady. In 2009, the theme was “Reflect, Rejoice, Renew.” This year’s theme is “Simple Gifts” and will represent state and county fairs, and prize ribbons from each state and territory.
While they all claim the title the “National Christmas Tree” each has a distinct history and uniqueness to share with the residents of the Nations Capitol and with the United States as a whole. So, which do you feel deserves the title?