December 24 & 25, 2012
COOLIDGE LIT THE 1ST NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE 89 YEARS AGO
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President Calvin Coolidge officially lit the 1st NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE on December 24, 1923.
By simply pushing a button, President Coolidge turned on 2500 red, white & green bulbs on the balsam fir brought from his home state of Vermont. The tree was donated by Paul Moody, president of Middlebury College.
The 1st National Christmas Tree
Washington, D.C. (1923)
National Park Service Photo
The President was accompanied by First Lady Grace Coolidge who approved the location of the Christmas tree.
Music for the ceremony was provided by the United States Marine Band, & the Epiphany Church & Congregational Church choirs.
3000 Washington, D.C. school children attended the ceremony.
The lighting of the NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE has been a tradition at the White House since 1923. FDR was the 1st president to give a speech at the lighting ceremony.
The original idea for the tree came from Frederick Morris Feiker, an engineer & editor, who saw it as a way to encourage the purchase of electric Christmas lights & the use of more electricity.
President John F. Kennedy was present at the tree lighting ceremony only once during his tenure. In December 1961, his father suffered a stroke, so Vice-President Johnson substituted.
JFK lit the NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE on December 17, 1962.
President Kennedy said:
"With the lighting of this tree, which is an old ceremony in Washington & one which has been among the most important of a good many Presidents...we initiate....the Christmas season."
At the end of 30 days of national mourning for the passing of President Kennedy, President Johnson lit the tree on December 22, 1963.
The NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE is located in the Northeast quadrant of The Ellipse at 15th Street, N.W.
The 2012 National Christmas Tree
Photo by Tim Evanson
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM JFK+50