Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Obama Lights National Christmas Tree in Festive, Musical Ceremony

ARCHIVES
The first family joined all of the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony performers on stage to sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” SHFWire photo by Tanya Parker The first family joined all of the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony performers on stage to sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” SHFWire photo by Tanya Parker

The White House kicked off the holiday season Thursday with the 90th National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Ellipse, south of the White House.

About 17,000 guests huddled under blankets and layers of warm clothing  as carolers and performers entertained the crowd by playing and singing traditional holiday favorites. Actor Neil Patrick Harris hosted the ceremony, and welcomed the first family to the stage, where President Barack Obama was invited to flip the switch.

Once the lights were on, Obama recounted the history of the ceremony – but not without a few jokes. He reminded guests that this National Christmas Tree was freshly planted.

“Our tree has been having a hard time recently,” Obama said. “This is our third one in as many years. Our longstanding tree was lost in a storm, and then its replacement didn’t take hold. It just goes to show, nobody’s job is safe here in Washington.”

The new tree, a 30-foot Colorado blue spruce from a private owner in Virginia, weathered Hurricane Sandy without trouble. Now decked in 100 colorful strands of lights, the tree served as the backdrop for the holiday concert performances that followed.

The first family sat in the front row, next to ABC’s “Modern Family” actor Rico Rodriguez, who interrupted Harris’ hosting duties by cooing about his amazing seats.

Harris asked Rodriguez why he was sitting with the first family.

“Well, Neil, I’m glad you asked,” Rodriguez said. “I was just talking to the president about possibly joining the first family. I mean, Neil, they have a chopper!”

The president played along, chuckling and nodding his head as Rodriguez announced they were taking a family vacation to Hawaii – and that Harris wasn’t invited.

“The Obamas and I are trying to keep it just family.”

Taking the skit one step farther, Rodriguez later joined first lady Michelle Obama on the stage as they read, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” to a few lucky children.

The lighthearted atmosphere continued as singers Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Ledisi, Jason Mraz, Colbie Caillat, Phillip Phillips, James Taylor and the band The Fray performed songs including, “This Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “Silver Bells.”

The Obamas closed out the ceremony by joining Harris, Rodriguez and the rest of the musical performers on stage for a holiday sing-a-long.

“Neil, are we going out with a song?” Obama asked.

“Sure, let’s sing one,” Harris said. “You start it.”

As Santa Claus came on stage, the group sang, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” while the Obamas made their exit back to the White House.

The National Christmas Tree will be lit from dusk until 11:00 p.m. every evening until Jan. 1. Musical performances will continue to take place on the Ellipse stage beginning Dec. 11 and run through Dec. 23.

Tanya Parker is a senior broadcast journalism and Spanish student at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. Originally from Perry, Ohio, Tanya is the producer of Athens’ local entertainment news program, “Straight Up!” Tanya has also reported, anchored and produced for “Athens Midday,” and served as the multimedia producer for the online environmental magazine, College Green Magazine, for one year. In addition to broadcast, Tanya worked as the Wit & Banter columnist at The Post, an independent, student-run newspaper at Ohio University.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.