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Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'll Be Attending the National Tree Lighting Ceremony Tonight

I have to admit, I'm having a blast living here in DC. Tonight I'll be in the reserved seats at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. I'll wear a red cap and scarf, so maybe you can spot me on tv!

Hint: Look for the blonde curls, a black coat with a twin poinsettia pin on the upper left shoulder. The "pin" is actually two enamel earrings from my Grandmother Marge, who passed away years ago. I'm wearing the "pin" so that my recently deceased mother and grandmother can attend "in spirit." There will be only 2,500+ of us in the reserved seating area. After the recent gate-crashing, I'm anticipating heavy security.

I'm proud that our National's Capital agrees that as the centerpiece of our country, no other piano besides a STEINWAY will do! That'll be our Steinway on the stage. It won't be the first time we've provided a piano for Sheryl Crow, nor is it likely to be the last!

Here's the lowdown on the ceremony:

Enjoy the sounds of the holiday season against the backdrop of the National Christmas Tree
and the smaller trees representing all fifty states, the District of Columbia and the
five U.S. Territories, model trains as well as the warmth of the yule log.

For 85 years, the American tradition of lighting a national Christmas Tree has continued, interrupted only briefly in its history during moments of great national travail.

In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge lit a “Community Christmas Tree” on behalf of “all Americans.” A Senator from Vermont, Coolidge’s home state,arranged for a cut fir tree from
Middlebury College to be erected in President’s Park (The Ellipse) for lighting. President Coolidge declined to speak at the ceremony, but he did push a button switch to light a 60-foot tree. Later that evening, the Marine Band performed in concert near the tree.

Sir Winston Churchill appeared on the South Porch with President Roosevelt for the lighting ceremony in 1941. Both men delivered Christmas messages to the gathered throng before sharing the official lighting duties. By the next year, Washington was under a war-imposed blackout. Lights were placed on the tree in 1942 but never lit, and the tree remained ‘dark’ from 1942 through 1944. In 1954, the lighting ceremony was named “The Christmas Pageant of Peace,” and a “Pathway of Peace” was established featuring smaller, decorated trees – one for each state and territory.

In 1963, the tree was not lit until December 22, after a service at the Lincoln Memorial, concluding a 30-day period of national mourning that followedthe assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The beautiful Colorado blue spruce that serves as the current National Christmas Tree was planted on the Ellipse in the fall of 1978. Brought to Washington, DC by the National Park Service from a York, Pennsylvania farm, this 40-foot tree has proven to be a hardy specimen. In 2003, the tree celebrated a quarter century of service as the National Christmas Tree.

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