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National Christmas Tree (United States) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In the United States, a large tree near the White House is decorated as the National Christmas Tree. The switching-on of the Christmas lights on the tree by the President of the United States early in the Christmas season is an annual televised event and a month-long festivities known as the Pageant of Peace. Nearby smaller trees and other decorations leading up to the National Christmas Tree are referred to as the Pathway to Peace.
The tradition of having a "National Christmas Tree" in Washington, D.C. began in 1923 during the presidency of Calvin Coolidge. That year, a 48-foot Balsam Fir from Vermont, Coolidge's home state, was donated by Paul D. Moody, President of Middlebury College in Vermont, and placed in the Ellipse outside the White House. At 5:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, standing at the foot of the tree, President Coolidge briefly addressed a crowd and lit up the tree electrically with a touch of a button. 2,500 electric bulbs in red, white and green, donated by the Electric League of Washington, illuminated the tree.
In 1924, the National Christmas Tree became known as the National Community Christmas Tree and lighting ceremony was moved to Sherman Plaza near the east entrance of the White House, where a 35-foot Norway Spruce donated by the American Forestry Association was planted. A bronze marker was placed at the base of this tree in 1927, marking it as the "National Community Christmas Tree." This tree was found to be damaged due to the process of trimming and the repeated stress caused by the heat and weight of the lights and was replaced in 1929 by another Norway spruce from New York. This second Norway spruce was similarly damaged and replaced with a 25-foot one replanted from the nursery of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks in the spring of 1931.
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