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One part of the mystery is solved, the tree has been chosen. A Douglas-fir from Shepardstown, West Virginia will be the official White House Christmas tree for 2009.
The official Blue Room tree will be presented to First Lady Michelle Obama by Christmas tree growers Eric and Gloria Sundback. They earned the honor by winning the National Christmas Tree Association’s (NCTA) national Christmas tree contest in August in Chattanooga, Tennessee , and taking the title of Grand Champion.
White House Chief Usher Admiral Stephen Rochon and Superintendent of Grounds Dale Haney handpicked the tree on October 20, 2009. The tree was planted by the Sundbacks 13 years ago in 1996 and will be cut in late November for the trip to Washington D.C. where it will be formally presented to First Lady Michelle Obama in late November. This will be the fourth time the couple has won the contest and presented to the First Lady.
The couple began growing Christmas trees in 1956 in western Pennsylvania. Eric’s work took them to Washington D.C. area in 1959 where they searched for land to continue their Christmas tree farming. They settled near Shepardstown, W.V. in 1967 and started retail lots in Bethesda, Maryland and Washington, D.C., which they operated for 40 years until passing the retail operations to two veteran employees. Now in their 80’s, Eric and Gloria Sundback continue the seed orchard part of their farm.
Upon presentation to the First Lady, which is tentatively scheduled to take place on November 27, 2009, the tree will be set up in the Blue Room where the White House Floral Department staff and volunteers will begin the process of bringing the 2009 theme to life. Only one hint so far, nj.com reported on November 6, 2009 that seventh and eighth grade students are creating 10 holiday ornaments for the tree depicting various “noteworthy and inspirational buildings or sites with historical significance or cultural importance,” according to the instructions they received from the White House. Girls Inc. locations in Columbus, Ohio and Santa Fe, New Mexico have also been chosen to create ornaments depicting local landmarks. Hmm….I can’t wait to see the spectacular talent of our true national treasures…our children.
National Christmas Tree Association members have presented the official White House Blue Room Christmas tree since 1996.
Track the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree 2009
Track the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree 2009 from the White Mountains of Arizona to Washington, D.C. On November 30, 2009 the 85-foot Blue spruce will be presented to the United States Congress. It is the first time Arizona has given an annual Christmas tree to the U.S. Capitol. Not only is the tree taller than a 7-story building, but it will arrive with nearly 10,000 handmade ornaments and 80 companion trees that will be placed in offices throughout the Capital Complex. http://capitolchristmastree2009.org/
The 86th Anniversary of the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree
On December 3, 2009, the National Christmas Tree Lighting will take place in Washington D.C. No matter where you are in the U.S. this event can be witnessed by webcast or broadcast. If you were one of the lucky lottery winners you’ll get to see it live with an all-star line up of stars performing.
Visit thenationaltree.org to keep track of the countdown clock, decorate your own tree online and send it to family and friends and for useful holiday tips on tree safety and energy efficiency. A really cool website. I’ll be decorating a few trees…seriously fun!