National community Christmas trees have been decorated on the ground of our nation's capital since 1923. Every December a tree is commemorated with a lighting ceremony by/with our current president.
This outdoor tradition started with an engineer from General Electric (GE) in hopes to persuade Americans to buy more electric lights and therefore use more electric energy. The first national holiday tree was a 48 ft tall Balsam fir donated by Middlebury College in Vermont. The tree, slightly damaged during transport, was decorated with over $5000 worth of electric lights equaling 2,500 bulbs ranging from red, white, and green. The ceremony was led by President Coolidge and included 3,000 city school children singing carols along with a performance of the United States Marine Band. This event was broadcasted on NBC via radio.
An inspection in 1929 discovered the adorned spruce had been damaged by the heat and weight of the holiday lights. To prevent further damage, string bulbs of lower wattage were hung in on subsequent trees. Fences were also implemented for underground root protection.
Throughout the years officials received complaints and criticism for the use of cut trees. The ceremony of 1973 would be the first to plant the celebrated tree on white house grounds. A 30-year-old Colorado blue spruce was delivered to DC and planted by the National Park Service (NPS).
This year our decorated evergreen resides in the northeast quadrant of the White House territory in Washington DC. The 2019 national holiday tree is a 30 feet Bluespruce that was decorated and lit on December 5.
Photo courtesy of WTOP and can be accessed here.