A side view of the Fort Stanwix ornament hand-painted by Pat Besl of Vienna, NY. It is now on display at the White House.
Image Provided Courtesy of The White House
December 11, 2007
Debbie Conway, 315-336-3113
“Holiday in the National Parks” Celebrated at the White House
(Rome, NY) – Fort Stanwix National Monument’s ornament is prominently displayed on this year’s official White House Christmas Tree. The tree is the centerpiece of elaborate decorations celebrating the theme of “Holiday in the National Parks.”
“It is an amazing honor for the National Park Service to be selected as the theme for the White House holiday decorations by the President and Mrs. Bush,” said National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar. “Mrs. Bush is the best champion for our national parks, and the beautiful decorations in each state room showcase the natural and historical treasures found in parks throughout the country.”
The tree, located in the Blue Room, is adorned with handmade ornaments representing the country’s 391 National Park Service sites. “Each ornament on the magnificent 18-foot Fraser fir was designed by an artist selected by the park,” said Bomar. “The ornaments tell the stories of our parks, just as our parks tell the stories of our nation.”
The Fort Stanwix ornament was hand-painted by Pat Besl of Vienna, NY. Ms. Besl, a retired Canastota art teacher and the Vice President of the Rome Art Association, submitted a design to the park after being contacted through the Rome Arts and Community Center. Ms. Besl’s design highlighted the various views of the fort. The top of the ornament was a view of the fort from above. The parapets and berms, painted in two point perspective, encircle the middle of the sphere. The bottom of the ornament shows the star shape created by the fort’s perimeter fence. “It was an honor to be selected and a challenge as well. I wanted to show the mass of the earth-bermed fort and the ingenuity of its architects,” says Besl of her design.
The holiday displays incorporate the wide variety of natural, cultural, and recreational features preserved by the National Park Service. Models of icons such as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Statue of Liberty share space with paintings of scenic vistas from Grand Canyon, Zion, and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Holiday garlands intertwined with park objects including seashells, pine cones, and gold aspen leaves add to each room’s festive feel. Ornaments can be viewed at the following National Park Service web-page:
A highlight of the decorations is a scaled-down, but architecturally accurate, gingerbread reproduction of the south view of the White House, a unit of the National Park Service. The edible masterpiece includes Bush family pets Barney, Miss Beazley, and Willie frolicking on the lawn with moose, elk, raccoons, and other animals found in national parks.
“National Parks commemorate the people, places, and events that define the American experience,” said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. “I am so appreciative of President Bush’s efforts to recognize the important role of national parks in American society. Our country will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016 and the President has been instrumental in establishing the National Park Centennial Initiative to prepare the parks for the next century.”
Fort Stanwix National Monument is open seven days a week 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days. Admission to the Marinus Willett Center and Fort are free. Visitors are encouraged to start their experience at the Marinus Willett Center at the intersection of West Dominick and James Streets. A park ranger can assist you in planning your visit. For more information about upcoming events call the park at (315) 338-7730. Please visit the park's web page at www.nps.gov/fost for additional information.