WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden kicked off the unofficial start of the holiday season at the lighting ceremony for the White House Christmas tree Thursday.
The 40-foot Norway spruce, cut from the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, survived an unexpected tumble Tuesday. Luckily, that was the only drama as the tree lighting went off without a hitch.
“Jill announced the theme of this year's holiday at the White House: Magic, Wonder and Joy,” the president said. “Three words that capture the essence of Christmas and the holidays to rediscover for ourselves, the simple joys of the season; from familiar songs to favorite recipes to open the hearts of the simple acts of kindness.”
Grammy-nominated country singer Mickey Guyton hosted the event, which featured performances by the U.S. Coast Guard’s Guardians Big Band, Darren Criss, Samara Joy, Ledisi, Reneé Rapp, St. Vincent, Joe Walsh and Dionne Warwick.
Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff also joined the festivities.
The lighting ceremony has been a tradition for over 100 years, dating back to former President Calvin Coolidge. Over the years, ceremonies have been canceled out of respect for such national emergencies as wars and the pandemic.
“Let's remember how blessed we are as Americans for the gift that is our nation. So Merry Christmas, America. May God bless you all, and may God protect our troops,” President Biden concluded.
The National Christmas Tree site will open to the public on Dec. 2 through Jan. 1. The viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Lights turn on around sunset every evening, according to the National Park Service.