WASHINGTON — The new National Christmas Tree is getting its holiday on.
President Barack Obama and his family lit the tree in a ceremony just after dark Thursday. It’s the 89th year for the holiday tree lighting, a tradition that began with President Calvin Coolidge in 1923.
Obama urged the crowd to be generous and to help others in need during the season including “the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in.”
Obama also welcomed troops returning home in time for the holiday and advised Americans to give “thanks and honor to our troops and our veterans and their families who sacrifice so much for us.”
The new National Christmas Tree was planted in March on the Ellipse south of the White House. It’s a 26-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce from a New Jersey tree nursery. The previous tree stood on the Ellipse since 1978. It was toppled in February by strong winds.
TV’s Carson Daly hosted the lighting ceremony, which included performances from Big Time Rush and Ellie Goulding and appearances by Kermit the Frog and Santa Claus.
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