The lights are about to go on at the National Christmas Tree in DC. A tradition dating back to 1923,
The 40-foot Colorado blue spruce that will be spotlighted is the same one that was transplanted from York, PA to its present site on Ellipse (the grassy area near the White House). This tree has been on site since 1978. Years ago, in 1954, the site held its first “Pathway of Peace,” which is a smaller collection of decorated trees surrounding the then National Christmas Tree. In all, there were 56 trees to represent the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories. The tree is adorned with decorations provided by organizations from each state. Decorations are well protected by a plastic globe in order to ward off against winter weather.
The lighting the National Christmas Tree is the start of a three week Christmas tradition in the nation’s Capital. The lighting will take place on Thursday, Dec. 9 at 5 p.m. Renowned performers will come out to celebrate the tree lighting ceremony including: Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and pianist Sara Bareilles, Hip-hop artist and actor Common, Blues legend B.B. King, Jackie Evancho of “America’s Got Talent,” Grammy-award winning band Maroon 5 and Jim James of My Morning Jacket rock group.
Tickets, free to all attendees, were distributed via an online lottery, but participation is now closed. But visitors are always invited to visit the National Christmas Tree and Pathway of Peace every evening, from dusk to 11 p.m. up through Jan. 1. Seasonal displays will include a large-scale model train, a Yule log and a Christmas manger. Volunteer choirs will hold musical performances each weeknight from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and on weekends from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. There will even be seasonal displays featuring Santa Claus at select times.
The tree stands on the Ellipse, near the White House. For more information, call 202-208-1631.