Biden gets a chance to bring holiday spirit to Washington by lighting the National Christmas Tree

President Joe Biden is getting a turn at bringing the holiday spirit to Washington

Darlene Superville
Thursday 30 November 2023 21:36 GMT
US White House Christmas Tree
US White House Christmas Tree

It's President Joe Biden 's turn to bring some holiday spirit to the U.S. capital.

The president and his wife, Jill, are participating Thursday in the annual tradition of lighting the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse, an area known as President's Park, on the south side of the White House.

This year's tree is a 40-foot (12-meter) Norway spruce from West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest.

There was a moment's doubt earlier this week about whether the 101-year-old tradition would go ahead as planned after the tree was felled by strong gusty winds Tuesday. But the tree was upright again within hours after a cable securing it was replaced, according to the National Park Service.

The tree lighting ceremony is an annual White House holiday tradition with a countdown and musical performances. The Norway spruce was planted about two weeks ago, replacing an older tree that the park service said had developed a fungal disease that caused its needles to turn brown and fall off.

None of the 58 smaller trees surrounding the National Christmas Tree was damaged. About 20 ornaments fell from the tree but did not break. The NPS announced Wednesday that crews are “installing concrete blocks and additional cables to further secure the tree.”

Country singer Mickey Guyton is the ceremony's host, with musical performances by Dionne Warwick and St. Vincent, among others.

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, are also attendees of Thursday's ceremony.

On Monday, the first lady helped open Washington's holiday season by unveiling the White House holiday decorations. On Wednesday, she opened a holiday ice rink on the South Lawn for children to skate and play hockey throughout December.

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Associated Press writer Ashraf Khalil contributed to this report.

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