Christmas at the White House has arrived with the annual White House Christmas tree, reports CNN. In standard tradition, it arrived via horse and carriage with First Lady Michelle Obama greeting the annual White House Christmas tree. This year, she was joined by her nephews and the first pets.
While the White House has many trees decorating the President’s mansion and the administrative West Wing of the White House, this one tree is the one that will go into the Blue Room. This is a holiday White House tradition that has been in place since the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration since 1966.
This year was no different, and while there was no snow on the ground to add to the festive spirit, the horse-drawn carriage that delivered the annual White House Christmas tree arrived with bells on, literally. The carriage was joined by a four-piece military band playing “O Christmas Tree” reports CNN.
Watch the First Lady join the tradition for her last time, as the Christmas tree arrives at the White House.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 25, 2016
CNN reports that the Obama’s nephews, Austin and Aaron Robinson, were along for the festivities. Also providing Christmas spirit were the first pets, Bo and Sunny. Joining the First Lady were Dave and Mary Vander Velden of Oconto, Wisconsin, yesterday, who won the award for the national tree contest. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather in Wisconsin, their winning tree had not grown tall enough in time for the November 25 delivery date.
But they were congratulated as the winners all the same by the First Lady, as an alternate tree arrived in the traditional location of delivery at the North Portico of the White House. In its stead was a 19-foot Douglas fir arriving from Pennsylvania, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. CNN reports that the replacement tree was a tree donated by a tree farm in Pennsylvania.
Ann O’Connor of the National Christmas Tree Association told CNN the following.
“Unfortunately nature was not on his [Dave Vander Velden] side and none of his trees grew to meet the specifications of height and fullness needed for the Blue Room. Our association selects the winners every other year, and this can happen.”
The winning Vander Velden tree will still go into the White House, just not into the Blue Room as the main White House Christmas tree.
The First Lady joked to the delivery personnel that her nephews were the “replacement kids” noting that her teenage girls were still asleep in the White House. The girls may have been sleeping off the extraordinary Thanksgiving meal served at the White House this year.
Mark Knoller, CBS News White House correspondent, tweeted the White House Thanksgiving menu over the holidays. Here’s a look at what was on the White House menu for President Obama and the First Lady and all of their guests on Thanksgiving. It included crab cakes and macaroni and cheese, and six kinds of pie, along with a wide selection of traditional Thanksgiving fare.
WH Thanksgiving Menu. Includes six kinds of pie. pic.twitter.com/mafcicubzA
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) November 24, 2016
The arrival of the tree is the kick-off event for a week-long sprint to the finish line of decorating the entire White House. It’s a feat that is met by a large team, of both volunteers and paid staff of the interior stylists that will take on the task. The First Lady said, greeting the tree was the “easiest part of the holiday season.”
— who?, what? (@pannlewis44) November 26, 2016
On Thursday, another national holiday tradition will occur at the White House, with the annual lighting of the Colorado blue spruce that is planted outside of the White House ellipse. This year’s ceremony will be hosted by actress Eva Longoria and feature musicians Garth Brooks, Chance the Rapper, and Kelly Clarkson reports CNN.
Here is a look at last year’s Christmas tree at the White House that went into the Blue Room. It was decorated in a red, white, and blue theme, and also with gold stars. The gold stars represent the gold star families of America who have lost a loved one who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Take a look at the tree and tour the White House 2015 holiday style.
— Roy Dawson (@royedawson) December 25, 2015
— Quang Niên (@AtnAstr) December 23, 2015
Vogue Magazine reports that last year’s designers who took on the task were personally selected by the First Lady herself. Designers Carolina Herrera, Humberto Leo, and Carol Lim transformed the White House into a winter wonderland in 2015. Each designer was given their own room to bring their own personal White House style to.
The rooms the designers were given last year where the White House Library, the China Room, and the Vermeil Room, reports Vogue.
— Denise (@Ireland0828) December 24, 2015
White House staffer Bryan Rafanelli, who is responsible for coordinating state dinners and official events has the job of ensuring every last decoration is in its meticulous place. Rafenelli was also Chelsea Clinton’s wedding planner. Watch the full video of the White House tree arriving this year.
Rafanelli works closely with the First Lady and the White House Social Office to turn the White House into holiday beauty. He did so last year after developing the official theme called “Timeless Traditions” reports Vogue. His team includes 20 volunteers in the White House and 100 additional volunteers from 35 states.
The White House puts a call out every year for volunteers to ensure tax dollars are not spent on decorating costs. Check back with the White House online in early Spring if you want to get on the list for next year. Have you started your holiday decorating yet?
[Featured Image by Alex Brandon/AP Images]