Celebrating the holiday season with a beautifully lit Christmas tree has been around for centuries, and each year millions of Americans take part in the time-honored tradition.
Another American, holiday-must is the National Christmas Tree lighting, a tradition that began with President Calvin Coolidge over nine decades ago when he lit a 48-foot fir tree on Christmas Eve in 1923.
In 2019, the National Christmas Tree lighting remains a holiday event attended by many in the Washington, DC region at The Ellipse at President’s Park, right in front of the White House. On Dec. 5, this year’s tree (the 97th annual) was lit by President Trump and first lady Melania Trump, followed by a show hosted by country music singer Jessie James Decker.
This year’s tree is covered in all-white lights, illuminating the tree from the star at the top to the very bottom. The tree selected to be planted in President’s Park was a 30-foot Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania, the first of its kind to be planted as a National Christmas Tree.
Other performances included “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band; singer Spensha Baker, who competed on Season 14 of The Voice; Colton Dixon of American Idol‘s 11th season; the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus; Chevel Shepherd, winner of Season 15 of The Voice; and more.
In addition to the National Christmas Tree, 56 smaller trees featuring handmade ornaments designed by students across every state and territory in the country, including the District, surround the bigger tree around the Pathway of Peace.
The tree lighting event will be broadcast on Monday, Dec. 9 on REELZ at 8 p.m., and also on Ovation at 9 p.m.
For those who are planning to visit the National Christmas Tree, the Pathway of Peace site is free to visit and will be open to the public from Monday, Dec. 9 through Wednesday, Jan. 1. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday. Nightly performances will be held Dec. 11 to 15, and Dec. 17 to 22. They are 30-minute performances each and are free and open to the public.
For more information on this year’s National Christmas Tree, visit nps.gov.