Central Oregon DailyBiden lights the National Christmas Tree, bringing holiday spirit to Washington

Biden lights the National Christmas Tree, bringing holiday spirit to Washington

Biden lights the National Christmas Tree, bringing holiday spirit to Washington

Biden lights the National Christmas Tree, bringing holiday spirit to Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) 鈥 It was President聽Joe Biden聽鈥榮 turn to bring some holiday spirit to the U.S. capital.

The president and his wife,聽Jill, participated Thursday in the annual tradition of lighting the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse, an area known as President鈥檚 Park, on the south side of the White House.

鈥淢erry Christmas, everyone,鈥 Biden said after he counted down from five and the towering tree lit up in a burst of holiday color.

Biden said the White House holiday theme of 鈥渨onder, magic and joy鈥 captures the essence of Christmas, which he said is about rediscovering simple joys like familiar songs and favorite recipes, performing acts of kindness, and strengthening bonds with family and friends as well as with one鈥檚 faith.

The holidays are also about remembering that 鈥渨e鈥檙e a great nation because we鈥檙e a good people. That鈥檚 what I see all across America, including tonight,鈥 he said.

鈥淟et鈥檚 remember how blessed we are as Americans for the gift that is our nation,鈥 Biden concluded.

This year鈥檚 tree聽is a 40-foot (12-meter) Norway spruce from West Virginia鈥檚 Monongahela National Forest.

There was a moment鈥檚 doubt earlier this week about whether the 101-year-old tradition would go ahead as planned after the聽tree was felled by strong gusty winds聽Tuesday. But the tree was upright again within hours after a cable securing it was replaced, according to the National Park Service.

The tree lighting ceremony is an annual White House holiday tradition with a countdown and musical performances. The Norway spruce was planted about two weeks ago, replacing an older tree that the park service said had developed a fungal disease that caused its needles to turn brown and fall off.

None of the 58 smaller trees surrounding the National Christmas Tree was damaged. About 20 ornaments fell from the tree but did not break. The NPS announced Wednesday that crews are 鈥渋nstalling concrete blocks and additional cables to further secure the tree.鈥

Country singer聽Mickey Guyton聽was the ceremony鈥檚 host, with musical performances by聽Dionne Warwick, St. Vincent, Joe Walsh, Darren Criss and others. CBS will broadcast the program on Dec. 15.

On Monday, the first lady helped open Washington鈥檚 holiday season by unveiling the聽White House holiday decorations. On Wednesday, she opened a聽holiday ice rink聽on the South Lawn for children to skate and play hockey throughout December.

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