From Sunlen Miller:
“Ho! It worked,” President Obama said as he and his family pushed the button to light the 87th National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse on the South Lawn this evening, ‘Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Washington, DC!.”
President Obama asked for some assistance from the First Lady, and his two daughters in pushing the button beforehand, claiming that he was “technologically challenged.” The First family then each put a hand each on the button to push down all at once and light the Colorado Blue Spruce tree from Colorado.
In times of “war, peace, hardship and joy,” Obama said, people have gathered on the Ellipse to celebrate the tradition of lighting the National Christmas tree.
Noting the hard economic times this year, the President said that now is a time to give to those who may be suffering.
“Let us also remember our neighbors who are struggling here at home, those who lost their jobs or a home, a friend or a loved one. Because even though it’s easy to focus on receiving at this time of year it’s also the essential act of giving that we find the greatest happiness.”
Mr. Obama thanked the men and women in the military “who risk their lives every day to keep the nation safe.”
“We will be thinking of you and praying for you during this holiday season.”
Host Randy Jackson warmed up the crowd nearly 10,000 strong and the First Family listened to performances from Sheryl Crow, Jordin Sparks, and Celtic Woman among others. “I told Sasha we’re not on American Idol, no singing,” Mr. Obama joked.
The First Lady read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” to children in the crowd. “Per the White House requests, this will be the greenest National Christmas Tree ever,” Mark Shields from the National Parks Service said in describing the tree, fashioned entirely this year with LED lights. The National Christmas tree will be on display tonight through January 1st.