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White House / Christmas

National Christmas Tree Lightings Through the Years -- PICTURES

photo of Chris Heller
December 1, 2011

The lighting of the National Christmas Tree, an 88-year tradition in Washington, is set to continue on Wednesday evening when the Obama family joins crowds, musicians, and celebrities on The Ellipse in President's Park. Take a look in the gallery below to see how this holiday celebration has evolved.

President Obama, sitting with his youngest daughter Sasha, offers his blanket to a guest during the 2011 National Christmas Tree Lighting.(Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP)

Obama smiles as he and Sasha attend the 2010 National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. Among other musical acts, B.B. King and Maroon 5 performed.(J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP)

 

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush join B.J. Thomas (left), Eartha Kitt (center-left), and Cathy Rigby (center-right) in singing Christmas carols during the 2006 National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. Brad Oscar (right) is dressed as Santa Claus.(MANUEL BALCE CENETA/AP)

Bush (right) dusted off the pipes three years earlier, when he sang Christmas carols with Phillip Griffith, cast member from the Broadway Musical "Mama Mia," at the lighting of the 2003 National Christmas Tree. (PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/AP)

 

Bush also sang Christmas carols with opera singers Carl Tanner and Darren Holden at the 2004 tree lighting.(PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/AP)

President Clinton and former Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa share a smile before the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse on Dec. 9, 1998.(KHUE BUI/AP)

President George H.W. Bush secures the coat of his granddaughter, Marshall Bush, during a windy and rainy lighting ceremony for the National Christmas Tree in 1992. Bush dedicated the tree to the children of America and asked the public to remember the children of Somalia.(DENNIS COOK/AP)

 

First lady Nancy Reagan listens as President Reagan speaks before lighting the National Christmas Tree on Dec. 15, 1988. This was the Reagan family's last White House Christmas.(MARCY NIGHSWANDER/AP)

President Carter and daughter Amy light the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in Washington on Dec. 14, 1978. In 1923, Calvin Coolidge became the first president to light the tree.(MARK WILSON/AP)

President Eisenhower shakes hands with Elizabeth Lamphere, a 17-year-old Girl Scout, after lighting the National Christmas Tree in the park behind the White House on Dec. 23, 1958.(BOB SCHUTZ/AP)

 

Touching a button that lighted the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House grounds, President Franklin Roosevelt gave the nation his Christmas message from Washington on Dec. 24, 1940.(AP PHOTO)

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