Tuesday, October 21, 2008

White House Christmas Tree Selected

One of the coolest things that the national Christmas Tree Association does is present the official White House Christmas Tree to the first lady each year. This is the tree that is displayed in the Blue Room of the White House, holds hand-made ornaments from around the country, is often the backdrop for interviews with the First Lady during the Holiday Season, and is often featured in HGTV’s White House Christmas Special.

Members of the White House Staff visited River Ridge Tree Farm in Ashe County, North Carolina today to select the tree that will be the focal point of the White House decorations this year. But the road to the White House began many years ago for partners Jessie Davis and Rusty Estes. Davis has been planting Christmas trees since high school, and Estes got into the business in 1979.

And the tree itself has waited may years to acheive greatness. The 20-foot Fraser fir was planted some 20 years ago, and stand among 40 or so magnificent peers.

Admiral Steve Rochon, Director of the Executive Residence and Chief Usher of the White House said that the selection was particularly difficult this year because there were so many beautiful trees to choose from. The Blue Room Christmas Tree has to be a minimum of 18 ½ feet tall, so it will reach from floor to ceiling. Most Christmas Trees are harvested long before they reach that height, but Davis and Estes had a number of perfect trees to fit the bill.

The tree selected edged out the competition because it had lots of lush, thick foliage, a deep green color, and strong branches to hold the heavy ornaments that the White House will use this year. The decorating theme for the White House is a closely held secret each year, but because of the size of the tree, it’s not unusual for many of the ornaments to be 8 inches or more in diameter, with some being much heavier than most people use in their homes.

Davis and Estes won the honor of providing this special tree to the White House by winning the National Christmas Tree contest in August. In order to qualify to enter that competition, they had to win the North Carolina Christmas Tree Associations Tree contest last year. At the national level, the tree from River Ridge Tree Farm was judged the best of show by both fellow tree growers and consumers.

Davis and Estes will present the tree to Mrs. Bush in a ceremony at the White House on November 30 at 3 pm Eastern. Check back for updates on the tree and the family!

Thanks to everyone that covered or watched this story, which ran in 19 States that we know of (Alabama, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin) plus the District of Columbia. The Nielsen Audience for this story topped 2.9 million viewers!


Rick Dungey said...

Very nice. Congratulations to River Ridge Farms! We're looking forward to the presention.

Anonymous said...

Soo Cha Griffith of Knoxville, TN is at the White House today to officially hang the Tennessee State Ornament on the Blue Room Christmas Tree. She is a celebrated international artist who has been creating wonderful art in her Knoxville studio for 14 years.

Egy Azziera said...

During my junior and senior years of college, I would camp out on the Ellipse with college buddies to get tickets to the White House Christmas tree lighting. That was an incredibly enjoyable experience! Of course, it was exciting to see Mr. President. :)