Friday, November 25, 2011

O Christmas Tree: First Lady Michelle Obama Receives 2011 Official White House Tree

Wisconsin tree will be displayed in Blue Room, with decorations that honor military families...
The very busy Presidential winter holiday season officially kicked off this morning when First Lady Michelle Obama accepted delivery of the 2011 Official White House Christmas Tree. Joined by daughters Malia and Sasha and First Dog Bo, Mrs. Obama was presented with the 19-foot-tall Balsam Fir, grown in Wisconsin, during a brief ceremony by the North Portico. The tree will be the centerpiece of the White House Christmas decorating scheme, on display throughout the holidays in the Blue Room with a theme that honors Blue Star families.

The tree was delivered via horse-drawn wagon, with a top-hatted coachman in control of an impressive pair of Clydesdales, their necks bedecked with red ribbons and wreathes. A band of US Marine Corps horn players gave a rousing rendition of O Christmas Tree as Mrs. Obama and her daughters watched the tree arrive.

"Let's check it out," the First Lady said to the girls as they walked around the carriage, examining the tree. Bo scampered about, trotting between the horses and his mistress.

Mrs. Obama, her hair pulled back in a bun, kept the autumn chill at bay in a gray sweater, gray print skirt and knee-high gray boots. She chatted briefly with 2011 National Christmas Tree Association Grand Champion winners Sue and Tom Schroeder, who grew the tree on their farm, Schroeder’s Forevergreens, near Neshkoro, Wisconsin (above). The tree was planted eighteen years ago.

Mrs. Obama's inspection was purely ceremonial: White House Chief Horticulturalist Jim Adams and Superintendent of Grounds Dale Haney, who were on hand for today's presentation, traveled to Wisconsin to select the tree on Oct. 3rd. The Schroeders harvested it on Nov. 17th.

"What do you think? Does it get the thumbs up?" Mrs. Obama asked Malia and Sasha. They enthusiastically consented, and Mrs. Obama agreed.

"Thumbs up!" she said. "Bring 'er on in!"

100,000 people will see the dazzling tree...
The very tall tree will require the removal of the Blue Room chandelier as it is installed. It will be viewed by as many as 100,000 people during the holidays, according to a White House aide, between those who visit for regular tours and for the many festive receptions that will be held through Dec. 16. Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard, the mastermind for the upcoming events, was on hand for today's delivery ceremony. (Above: Carriage horse Abe, right, and Jay, delivered the tree last year, too)

The White House will be decorated by the floral department staff and a team of volunteers this weekend and through the beginning of next week. Mrs. Obama's decorating theme will be unveiled next Wednesday, Nov. 30. She will welcome military families as the first group of visitors to view the seasonal decor.

Schroeder’s Forevergreens is one of approximately 800 Christmas tree farms and lots nationwide that donate Christmas trees to the Christmas SPIRIT Foundations’ Trees for Troops program, according to the East Wing. (Above: Mrs. Obama, the girls, and Bo walk out to receive the tree)

"Trees for Troops has provided 84,000 full-sized farm-grown Christmas trees to troops and military families since it began in 2005 and this year’s goal is to deliver their 100,000th tree," the East Wing said.

Members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented the official White House Christmas Tree for display in the Blue Room since 1966.

Last year's tree was grown in Pennsylvania. Read about it here.

*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama

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