1989-1992 National Christmas Trees

1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992

 
1989 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielson)
1989 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielsen)

1989
December 14
Bush

President and Participants: For the first time in nine years the President lit the National Christmas Tree standing on the Ellipse. President and Mrs. Bush lit the tree with one of their granddaughters and then watched the ceremonies from a glass-encased box near the stage. President Bush spoke about the "bells of freedom" ringing across Eastern Europe. "This is the Christmas we've awaited for fifty years. And across Europe, East and West," President Bush said, "1989 is ending, bright with the promise of a far better Christmastime than Europe has ever known. A far better future than the world dared to imagine." [NPS-WHL, Box SE-011, "A82 1989 Pageant of Peace, File 2," Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, December 18, 1989.]

The Tree: Living Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania (1978). The tree was decorated with 1,800 red lights, 2,500 blue lights, 1,000 white stars, with a fade mechanism meant to symbolize the "Thousand Points of Light." [Washington Times, December 14, 1989.] The tree topper also complemented the "Thousand Points of Light" theme. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-011, "A82 1989 Christmas Pageant of Peace, File 3," NPS Christmas Pageant of Peace Briefing Notes, October 10, 1989.]

In an interview about the lighting of the tree, presidential press secretary Marlin Fitzwater said that when President Bush turned the switch to light the tree, this actually lit the tree. This was compared to President Reagan's turning a switch that was said not to be connected electrically to the tree. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-011, "A82 1989 Christmas Pageant of Peace, File 2," Herald Mail, December 17, 1989; Washington Post, December 16, 1989.]

Noteworthy Ceremony Elements: Pageant elements included the Yule log, nativity scene, and reindeer pen. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-011, "A82 1989 Christmas Pageant of Peace, File 1," briefing notes, October 10, 1989.]

A Camp Fire Girl and a Boy Scout participated in the ceremony. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-011, "A82 1989 Christmas Pageant of Peace, File 2," Draft Outline for Tree Lighting Ceremony, November 24, 1989.]

Theme: "Family"

Performers/Celebrity Involvement: Loretta Lynn, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., Tommy Tune

Tree Topping: Barbara Bush topped the tree with granddaughter Marshall Bush and Joseph Riley on December 14. This was Barbara Bush's ninth topping of the tree, and the first time an incumbent First Lady topped the tree. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-011, "A82 1989 Xmas Pageant of Peace, File 1," "briefing notes," October 10, 1989; USA Today, November 28, 1989.]

Miscellaneous: A public meeting was held on October 11, 1989 for planning the 1989 event.

 
 
1990 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielson)
1990 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielsen)

1990
December 13
Bush

President and Participants: President Bush lit the National Christmas Tree with Mrs. Bush and grandson Samuel LeBlond. After the lighting the President and Mrs. Bush watched the festivities from a glass-encased box near the stage. [White House, Office of the Curator, National Christmas Tree Files, NPS press release, February 2, 1998.]

The Tree: Living Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania (1978). The tree was lit with fading effect, transforming from a white to a multi-colored effect.

Noteworthy Ceremony Elements: Music was provided by the U.S. Army Band.

The fifty-six Scotch pine trees used to form the Pathway of Peace were grown on reclaimed surface coal mine land in Western, Maryland. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-014, "A8227 Pageant of Peace 1990, File 2," NPs Press Release, October 19, 1990.] The trees were donated by the National Coal Association through the Office of Surface Mining, US Department of the Interior.

Displays included a nativity scene, Santa's reindeer, a warming bonfire, and a refreshment stand with complimentary cocoa, cookies and candies. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-014, "A8227 Pageant of Peace 1990, File 2," NPs Press Release, October 19, 1990.]

Theme: "Discovery"

Performers/Celebrity Involvement: Ruth Brown; Jane Powell; Ricky Van Shelton; the California Raisins; Chip 'N Dale & Baloo the Bear. Willard Scott as Santa Claus.

Tree Topping: Barbara Bush topped the tree with her grandchildren, Samuel and Ellie LeBlond, on November 30. [Washington Post, December 1, 1990.]

 
 
1991 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielson)
1991 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielsen)

1991
December 12
Bush

President and Participants: President Bush lit the tree with the aid of Terry Anderson, the last American hostage released from Lebanon. Four other former hostages, Alan Steen, Thomas Sutherland, Joseph Cicippio and Jesse Turner, were also present. Before the tree lighting the former hostages attended a reception in the East Room of the White House. [Washington Post, December 13, 1991.] Addressing the former hostages, President Bush said "Your fortitude, your humor and generosity tell us the true meaning of this season, and, at this time of year especially, these men remind us that the glitz and glamour of material things don't matter." [Washington Post, December 13, 1991.]

United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, who was instrumental in obtaining the hostages' freedom, also attended the event. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-016, "A8227 Pageant of Peace 1991".]

The Tree: Living Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania. (1978).

Despite a momentary failure, President Bush's turning of the switch actually lit the tree. In previous years the turning of the switch was symbolic, only an indication for the tree to be lit. This claim appears contrary to Marlin Fitzwater's report in 1989. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-016, "A8227 Pageant of Peace 1991," "Statement Regarding 1991 Pageant Tree Lighting," December 13, 1991.]

Noteworthy Ceremony Elements: State trees were grown on reclaimed mining land in
St. Clairsville, Ohio. The Department of the Interior's Office on Surface Mining arranged for the trees to be brought to the Christmas Pageant of Peace. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-016, "A8227 Pageant of Peace 1991," NPS news release, November 20, 1991.] Pageant and National Park Service officials discussed whether or not to continue the practice of incorporating state trees from the Office of Surface Mining. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-016, "A8227 Christmas Pageant of Peace -- 1991, memo, March 20, 1992.]

Theme: "Charity"

Performers/Celebrity Involvement: Marilyn Horne, Joe Williams, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Willard Scott

Tree Topping: Barbara Bush topped the tree Joseph Riley and grandchildren Lauren and Pierce Bush on November 25. [Washington Post, November 26, 1991; Washington Times, November 26, 1991.]

Outstanding Weather Conditions: frigid weather [Washington Times, December 13, 1991.]

Miscellaneous: A public meeting was held on October 9, 1991. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-016, "A8227 Christmas Pageant of Peace -- 1991]

 
 
1992 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielson)
1992 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielsen)

1992
December 10
Bush

President and Participants: President Bush lit the National Christmas Tree.

The Tree: Living Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania (1978).

Noteworthy Ceremony Elements: The U.S. Marine Band performed for the first time since 1979.

Theme: "Exploration"

Performers/Celebrity Involvement: Luci Arnaz, Lee Greenwood, Willard Scott, Keshia Knight Pulliam

Tree Topping: Barbara Bush topped the tree with Joseph Riley and grandson Walker Bush on December 1, 1992. [Washington Post, December 2, 1992.] This was Barbara Bush's twelfth and last time topping the tree. [White House, Curator's Office, National Christmas Tree Files, press release, December 14, 1992.] Mrs. Bush was presented with a plaque for years of commitment to the Christmas Pageant of Peace.

Outstanding Weather Conditions: heavy rain [NPS-WPP, 1985-1997 President's Park logbooks.]

Miscellaneous: The first in a series of National Christmas Tree ornaments was produced by Peggy Henkel, President of Georgetown Marketing Company (formerly Westport Marketing Group), and given away free of charge. [NPS-WHL, Box TBP-58 "A 8227 Christmas Pageant of Peace -- 1994," "Fund Raising Activities of the Pageant of Peace Committee," April 7, 1994; NPS-WHL, "A82(27) Pageant of Peace -- 1997," National Christmas Tree Ornament pamphlet.]

The National Christmas Tree and the Christmas Pageant of Peace was the subject of the Bushes' official 1992 White House Christmas card. Kamil Kubik was the artist and the Hallmark Company printed the cards.

 

Last updated: January 5, 2016

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1849 C Street NW
Room 1426

Washington, DC 20240

Phone:

(202) 208-1631

Contact Us