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Contact: Vickie Carson, 270.758.2192
Mammoth Cave National Park 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."
Mammoth Cave’s ornament was created by Ranger John Yakel. Starting with a five-inch ball, Yakel sliced a hole in the side of it and applied papier-mâché to depict layers of limestone at the Historic Entrance to the cave; he dripped hot glue over the "mouth of the cave" to create the spring, and applied modeling shrubbery to the top of the ball for the forest.
"It was an experience of a lifetime," said Yakel of the trip he and his wife, Pam, made to Washington and the November 28 reception at the White House. "First Lady Laura Bush was very gracious and welcoming, and so supportive of the national parks. The ornaments were amazing and each one was perfect for the park it portrayed. I was proud to be a part of it and represent Mammoth Cave."
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. A sampling of the ornaments can be viewed online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/holiday/2007/holiday-ornaments.html. Holiday garlands intertwined with park objects including seashells, pine cones, and gold aspen leaves add to each room’s festive feel.
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."