Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President Calvin Coolidge officially lit the 1st National Christmas Tree ninety years ago today, December 24, 1923, here in the Nation's Capital.
With the push of a button, Mr. Coolidge turned on 2500 red, white and green bulbs on the 48 foot 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, and the Epiphany and 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 and editor, who saw it as a way to encourage Americans to purchase electric Christmas lights as well as 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.
President Kennedy lit the National Christmas Tree on December 17, 1962.
"With the lighting of this tree, which is an old ceremony in Washington and 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 Lyndon B. Johnson lit the tree on December 22, 1963.
"Today we come to the end of a season of great national sorrow and to the beginning of the season of great eternal joy."
This year's National Christmas Tree was lit by President Barack Obama, accompanied by his family, on December 6, 2013.
The 2013 National Christmas Tree, in keeping with environmental efficiency, has General Electric LED lights. They are described as "sugar plum lights in bright, traditional multi-colors."
The Tree has 225 LED string sets using 5700 watts of power, an 80% savings over incandescent bulbs.
The National Christmas Tree is located in the Northeast quadrant of The Ellipse at 15th Street, N.W.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OUR VISITORS FROM JFK+50
"Peace on earth, good will toward men."