WASHINGTON – An 18 ½-foot tall Fraser fir tree,still bound and undecorated,lumbered up the White House driveway Monday in a green horse-drawn cart as first lady Laura Bush amiably waited.
With a three-man band playing Christmas songs in the background,the tree was ceremoniously presented to the mansion where it will serve as this year's official White House Christmas tree.
“This is a very fun tradition,” Bush said. “This is the 40th year the National Christmas Tree Growers Association has given the White House the magnificent tree.”
The tree was handpicked in October from the Smokey Holler Tree Farm in Laurel Springs,N.C.,where owners Earl and Betsy Deal have about 240,000 trees. The Deals have sold trees for 34 years.
Since 1966,the National Christmas Tree Association has presented the White House with a tree from a member farm. The tree was selected from the Deal's farm after they won the National Christmas Tree Competition in August 2004.
“We had tagged this one hoping it would be the one picked,” Earl Deal said in a statement. “This is a dream come true.”
The tree,which will stand in the Blue Room,is the first tree from North Carolina to grace the White House since 1997,the Deals said.
To accommodate the massive tree,each year the chandelier in the Blue Room is removed and stabilizing supports are put up,said Rick Dungey of the National Christmas Tree Association. “The tree is required to stand an exact 18 ½ feet in order to fit the room perfectly,and it's powered from the ceiling.”
Holiday decorating inside the White House is already underway,the first lady announced: “Santa's elves are in,decorating.”
Decoration will follow the theme of “all things bright and beautiful,” she said. “I think it will really be bright and beautiful with this fabulous tree.”
Bush said the holiday decorating would be complete by Wednesday with a media preview to follow.