Highlighted Site of the Week: Two Rival Christmas Trees - State and Federal Communications

December 17, 2010  •  

Highlighted Site of the Week: Two Rival Christmas Trees

In honor of the holidays, we highlight two Web sites featuring two national holiday traditions. One is a Christmas tree tradition associated with the White House, and the other a Christmas tree associated with the United States Capitol.

The National Christmas Tree event at the White House and its Web site are both hosted by the National Park Foundation. This has been a tradition with the White House since Calvin Coolidge was President:

According to the site: “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 a “quartet” from the U.S. Marine Band performed. 86 years later, this American holiday tradition continues to bring citizens together to share in a message of hope and peace.”

That first tree was donated by the President of Middlebury College in Vermont. You can find much more about the tradition of the tree lighting since that first ceremony. On the National Christmas Tree site you can visit Santa, get safety tips, decorate your own virtual tree, and see a timeline of National Christmas tree pictures from the 1920s forward. This year, the National Tree lighting ceremony was on December 9 and featured performers such as B.B. King, Sarah Bareilles, and Maroon 5.

The National Park Foundation has not neglected our beloved social media – they have a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a picture-rich Flickr account, and a YouTube account where you can visit Santa’s Workshop at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C.:

On the rival Web site, you can see that this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree came all the way from Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming! The tree has a celebrated travel route, including scheduled stops. Kids could track the progress of the tree via a Google map. The Capitol Christmas Tree has an official song, “The Cowboy Chrismtas Tree Song,” which can be downloaded for your mp3 player.

This year the tree lighting at the U.S. Capitol was on December 7. According to the Architect of the Capitol Web site, this tradition began in 1964 1964, at the request of Speaker of the House John W. McCormack. The Architect of the Capitol Web site has a list of trees used for the displays over the years.

A great deal of hard work and loving-care went into decorating the tree: “The people of Wyoming will make the 5,000 ornaments used to decorate the tree. The ornaments will be 9 to 12 inches tall and must be made to withstand 3 weeks of harsh winter weather.”

Photo of the National Christmas Tree at the White House courtesy of Chris Greenberg on Wikipedia, the photo of the Capitol Christmas Tree by the Office of Senator Patrick Leahy on Wikipedia, and the Santa video courtesy of the National Park Foundation hosted on YouTube.

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