WASHINGTON – A teacup-sized marzipan model of Bo,the first dog,stands on the lawn outside the traditional gingerbread White House,right next to the kitchen garden.
Those are just two of the details of the 2009 White House Christmas decorations that first lady Michelle Obama revealed Tuesday.
The theme for this year's decor is “Reflect,Rejoice and Renew.”
Obama embellished on traditional holiday decorations to involve as many people and communities as possible in festivities at the White House.
She described the theme as she showed the decorations off for reporters.
Tuesday night,the Obamas welcomed the first of about 50,000 people who will visit the wreath-laden and tree-strewn rooms and halls during the holiday season.
“I have wanted the American people to share in our journey,to share in the history and the excitement that makes the White House such a special landmark in this nation,” Obama said. “That's why we've worked so hard throughout this year to invite as many people as possible to events here at the White House.”
White House staff members and 92 volunteers from 24 states spent 32,000 hours to complete the holiday transformation.
“The idea has been to create an environment where every story and every voice is welcome in the White House,and for all of us to rejoice in their accomplishments and to celebrate their contributions to the life of this nation,” Obama said.
Blue ribbons inscribed with theme words are found all over the 18 ½ foot official White House Christmas Tree. The West Virginian Douglas fir graces the Blue Room.
Ornaments used during previous administrations were sent to 60 communities to be refurbished. The communities were instructed to decorate the nearly 800 ornaments to represent historical landmarks,institutions and events in their regions.
“They represent the things that they are proud of in their area,” said Kim Fawley,a teacher from Broadway,Va.,who partook in decorating the tree.
Fawley said Chicago is well represented on the tree.
Fawley said 30 to 40 people were “hustling and bustling” to get the tree up and decorated by Monday. Final touches,such as the tree skirt,were completed Tuesday.
The Green Room,Red Room and State Dining Room also house Christmas trees.
The traditional gingerbread White House in the State Dining room has two new additions: the White House kitchen garden on the South Lawn and a shadow box feature that lets viewers look into the replica State Dining room.
The garden was added because of its success and contributions to the kitchen,said White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses. The vegetable garden provided nearly 800 pounds of produce this year.
The house and garden are made mainly of a variety of cookie crumbs,gingerbread,chocolate and marzipan and weighs 390 pounds.
Yosses said everyone contributed to the gingerbread house,even the plumber. He provided tubes for the mansion's exterior columns.
Obama announced that the White House staff will focus on two causes: Toys for Tots and D.C. area food banks.
“And I know many people approach the holidays in the same way in their own lives,and that at this time of year for so many people,they are looking for opportunities to give thanks and to give back,” Obama said. “And we're doing the same thing here at the White House.”
Over its 62 year history,Toys for Tots has grown from a single campaign in Los Angeles to 600 local campaigns in all states,the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Retired Lt. Gen. Pete Osman,Toys for Tots president,said the demand for toys is going to increase this year. “We want to meet that demand.”