History of the National Christmas Tree

christmas tree

History of the National Christmas Tree

History of the National Christmas Tree

Nearly everyone is familiar with the White House Christmas Tree, which marks 94 years of tradition in 2017.  Here’s a bit of the tree’s history from the official website,thenationaltree.org.


In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse to light a 48-foot fir tree decorated with 2,500 electric bulbs in red, white and green, as a local choir and what was billed as a quartet from the U.S. Marine Band performed. Ninety-three years later, this American holiday tradition continues to bring citizens together to share in a message of hope and peace.


Earl C. Hargrove Jr., with his good friend Bill Law, began decorating the National Christmas Tree in 1954, and Hargrove, Inc. — Earl’s company — has continued that tradition to thepresent day. The two men trucked in a 60-foot tree and had to secure it in a custom stand. The National Park Service erected several stories of staging to help them. Unfortunately for Hargrove, there was no such thing as a “string” of lights. He manually installed sockets every foot on several hundred feet of wire and screwed in and tested every bulb. When bulbs became a finicky, Hargrove would climb up and fix them in a Santa costume!


In 1963, after the death of President Kennedy on November 22, the lighting ceremony was postponed until the 30-day period of national mourning had passed. On December 22, President Lyndon Johnson, accompanied by the nation’s First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, and her daughter Luci, opened the lighting ceremony.  That was the first year that General Electric designed the lighting.


Through the 1970s and 1980s, kids often helped the President light the National Christmas Tree. In 1983 seven-year-old Amy Bentham joined President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan in lighting the tree. Amy had written to the “Make a Wish” program saying “The Christmas tree that lights up for our country must be seen all the way to heaven. I would wish so much to help the President turn on those Christmas lights.”


At the request of the White House, LED Christmas lights were used for the first time on the National Christmas Tree. GE implemented the change, making the National Christmas Tree more energy-efficient than ever before. GE has been designing the National Christmas Tree since 1963, producing and donating the lighting and decorations.


Powered almost entirely by light-emitting computer chips called LEDs, the 2008 National Christmas Tree display was 50 percent more energy efficient than the 2007 display. This is also the first time Santa’s Workshop was found along the Christmas Pathway of Peace, sharing holiday cheer and safety tips with all families this December.


In 2015, the theme of the National Christmas Tree paid tribute to the upcoming the kickoff of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016. The Park Service anniversary was celebrated with tree  trimmings of sparkling gold ribbon and silvery white stars and lights, the colors and trappings that are traditionally used for milestone celebrations.


We’re not suggesting that you attempt to match the scale of the National Christmas Tree in your front yard for the holidays, but if you want to be sure that your home can safely accommodate whatever display you’re planning, you should call Father & Son Electric, electricians in Charlotte, NC.  Father & Son quotes are always free and the Charlotte NC electricians can always be counted on to do quality work.  When you need an electrical contractor in Charlotte NC or a 24 hour electrician, Father & Son is the place to go.


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