The Association Behind the White House Christmas Tree
Since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association has provided the White House with the tree that symbolizes the holidays in the nation's capital.
When the White House received its official Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving, it didn’t magically appear out of nowhere.
In fact, in a tradition that has lasted nearly five decades, the National Christmas Tree Association has helped the White House pick just the right tree—and in the process, kept its membership active across the country. More details:
How the tradition started: In 1966, the association, which represents the interests of Christmas tree producers, started a contest to choose the best trees in the country—with winners first chosen among state associations and then picked by the national group. The winner of the national contest then offers a tree to the White House.
What the tradition entails: The winner provides a tree to display in the White House’s Blue Room. It must measure at least 18.5 feet tall to reach the top of the room, so it can reach the power source that keeps the tree lit.
This year’s winner: The White House picked a 19-foot-tall Fraser fir, grown at Peak Farms near Jefferson, North Carolina, in October, and first lady Michelle Obama accepted it last week. The farms, owned by Rusty and Beau Estes, have produced Christmas trees since 1979. Starting with just 200 trees, the family now grows 400,000 trees in locations across the state. “This Fraser represents the great trees we commonly grow here on farms in the mountains of North Carolina,” Beau Estes told the association, “but really we’re proud to represent all family farms across America who grow great Christmas trees.”
Correction: A prior version of this story made a reference to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) lighting the White House Christmas tree. Boehner is actually lighting the tree at the U.S. Capitol December 4. We regret the error.
(Chuck Kennedy/Official White House Photo)