President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump led the 96th annual National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, as the holiday season officially kicks off. The presidential tradition was held just South of the White House on the lawn of the Ellipse, creating a beautiful backdrop for the colorful spruce. This year’s national tree is a Colorado blue spruce that is surrounded by 56 smaller trees, all featuring ornaments from every state and territory including the District of Columbia. Earlier in the week, the first lady gave a preview of the White House Christmas decorations, which boasted similar ornaments honoring all the diverse areas in the U.S.
The festive event featured musical performances from artists like LOCASH, Spensha Baker, Gabby Barrett, and Abby Anderson to name a few. Towards the end of the ceremony, President Donald Trump went onstage to deliver a speech to the crowd where he paused to “recognize the victims of disasters across the country” in 2018, reports AP. “Our thoughts turn to those who are rebuilding their lives after devastating wildfires, destructive hurricanes and terrible tragedy,” he said. “We are one American family, and we hurt together, and we heal together, and we will always pull through together.”
In addition, Trump used his speaking time to honor all of the foster families, first responders and members of the military. “Their families are all our families,” the President said, referring to the loved ones of those serving in the military.
Also in attendance of the National Tree Lighting ceremony was first children “Don Jr. and Tiffany, daughter-in-law Lara Trump, Don Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke,” reports AP.
Fast Fact: President Calvin Coolidge led the first-ever presidential tree lighting ceremony on Christmas Eve of 1923 in front of 3,000 spectators.
See photos of the 2018 National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony below:
Wednesday Nov. 28, 2018
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave as they arrive at the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting located on the Ellipse in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump arrive to view the tree lighting, just ahead of the President’s ceremonial speech. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in the audience during the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump get ready to begin the annual tree lighting ritual. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke greets first lady Melania Trump before President Donald Trump speaks during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump speaks onstage during the festive ceremony, as the National Christmas Tree glows in night sky behind him. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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First lady Melania Trump waves after lighting the National Christmas Tree during a ceremony. Melania had the honor of hitting the light switch, illuminating the festive spruce in President’s Park, just south of the White House. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The President and First Lady stand in front of the illuminated National Christmas Tree during the annual ceremony. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave after lighting the National Christmas Tree. It was later reported that the pair left hastily soon after. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Lead image by AP Photo/Susan Walsh; Sourced from AP.