The nation’s capital will celebrate the holiday season with two separate holiday tree lighting ceremonies: The Capital Tree Lighting and The National Tree Lighting Ceremonies. The Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place on Tuesday, December 3rd at 5pm on the West Lawn of the United States Capital building. The 24 foot tree, which was planted in 1969, will be lit by Speaker of the House, John Boehner. There will also be music provided by the United States Marine Band and carols sung by the Congressional Chorus.
The second tree lighting event is the National Tree Lighting, which takes place Friday, December 6th on the Ellipse, near the White House. The event starts at 4:30 and can be viewed online via the website or on your local PBS stations. President Obama and Mrs. Obama and their family will have the honor of lighting the tree, which was designed and decorated by GE Lighting. There is an extensive list of entertainment for the event including: Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Train, Avett Brothers, Joshua Bell, Jane Lynch, Renee Fleming, Arturo Sandoval and many more. The tickets to the event were given out during an online lottery. You must have a ticket in order to be allowed to enter the lighting ceremony.
In conjunction with the ceremony, President Eisenhower created the “Christmas Pageant of Peace” in 1954. This includes the “Pathway of Peace” with smaller decorated trees representing each of the 50 states, 5 US territories and the District of Columbia. Each of the trees have special handmade ornaments from organizations representing each state. There is also 3 weeks of nightly entertainment featuring local, regional and national performers spreading holiday cheer through music. Next to the “Pathway of Peace” is Santa’s Workshop, where young and old can visit Santa and his elves as they prepare toys for children of all ages.
The first National Tree Lighting Ceremony took place in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a 48 foot tree decorated with over 2500 lights. The ceremony continued to the beginning of World War II and was re-started at the end of the war in 1945 and has been going on continuously ever since. The current tree, a 40 foot Colorado blue spruce was transplanted from York, Pennsylvania in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter. Today, the tree has over 20,000 LED energy-efficient lights and is quite the sight to behold.
The National Tree Lighting Ceremony and Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony rings in the holiday season. Enjoy the fun, holiday cheer and festivities of these two great events!