1993-2000 National Christmas Trees

1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000

 
1993 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielson)
1993 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielsen)

1993
December 9
Clinton

President and Participants: President Clinton, accompanied by Hillary Rodham Clinton, delivered a Christmas message and threw the switch to light the National Christmas Tree at 5:00 p.m.

The Tree: Living Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania (1978). The tree topper was a fiber-optic starburst ornament. The topper was later deemed too futuristic.

Noteworthy Ceremony Elements: The U.S. Air Force Band performed from 4:30 - 4:55 p.m. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-010, "A8227 -- 1993 Christmas Pageant of Peace, File 1," program, National Christmas Tree, 1993.]

Trees grown on reclaimed mining lands in Pennsylvania were again used for the state trees. After the Pageant these trees were planted in various Washington, D.C. parks. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-010, "A8227 -- 1993 Christmas Pageant of Peace, File 1," Fact Sheet, US Department of the Interior.]

Theme: "Unity"

Performers/Celebrity Involvement: Phil Driscoll, Charley Pride, Willard Scott, Sandy Duncan

Tree Topping: Hillary Rodham Clinton topped the tree for the first time with Joseph Riley on November 29. [New York Times, November 30, 1993; Washington Post, November 30, 1993; Washington Times, November 30, 1993.]

Miscellaneous: Christmas Pageant of Peace committee members evaluated the site and the general arrangements for the Pageant and considered various options such as switching the site of the Pageant to the Washington Monument or the National Mall, or combining ceremonies with the Capitol Holiday tree or the White House Christmas Tree. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-010, "A8227 -- 1993 Christmas Pageant of Peace, File 3," "Draft Comprehensive Plan of the White House National Park Service, December 14, 1993.]

A public meeting was held on October 22, 1993. [NPS-WHL, Box SE-010, "A8227 1993 Christmas Pageant of Peace," report, October 22, 1993.]

 


 
1994 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielson)
1994 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielsen)

1994
December 7
Clinton

President and Participants: Chelsea Clinton, daughter of President and Mrs. Clinton, turned the switch to light the National Christmas Tree with the President and Mrs. Clinton. The Clintons sat with seven children from the Coalition for the Homeless. [Washington Post, December 8, 1994.]

The Tree: Living Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania (1978). The tree was decorated with over 10,000 bulbs, and circular and diamond-shaped ornaments. It was draped in garland and ribbon. Topping the tree was a three-dimensional stained-glass star. [NPS-WHL, Box TBP-58, "A8227 Christmas Pageant of Peace -- 1994," program, Christmas Pageant of Peace, 1994.] The lighting for the Pageant was overseen by the Department of Energy.

Noteworthy Ceremony Elements: A new attraction was introduced: an electric G-scale train that ran around the base of the tree. [NPS-WHL, Box TBP-58, "A8227 Christmas Pageant of Peace -- 1994," program, Christmas Pageant of Peace, 1994.]

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory produced a study to evaluate the possibility of illuminating part of the Pageant through photovoltaic light. It was determined that photovoltaic lighting would be feasible only during the day. [NPS-WHL, Box TBP-58, "A8227 Christmas Pageant of Peace 1994," "Feasibility Study for the Use of Renewable Energy at the Pageant of Peace,"` January, 1994.]

Photovoltaic lights were supplied through the US Department of Energy.

Theme: "Spirit"

Performers/Celebrity Involvement: Aretha Franklin, Trisha Yearwood, Jerry Hadley, Richard Leech, and Willard Scott

Tree Topping: Hillary Rodham Clinton topped the tree on November 28 with John Betchkal, the new President of Christmas Pageant of Peace. [New York Times, November 29, 1994; Washington Post, November 29, 1994.]

Miscellaneous: The idea of a National Christmas Tree ornament to be sold as a fundraiser for the Christmas Pageant of Peace was reintroduced by Peggy Henkel of Georgetown Marketing Company. [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, Box TBP-58, "A8227 Christmas Pageant of Peace -- 1994," NPS Note to File, April 11, 1994.]

An alternative plan to the Christmas ornaments of a limited edition Christmas card with an artist's rendering of the National Christmas Tree was suggested. These cards were printed, as the first commercially produced products bearing the name of the National Christmas Tree or the Christmas Pageant of Peace. [NPS-WHL, Box TBP-58, "A8227 Christmas Pageant of Peace -- 1994," NPs Note to File, April 11, 1994 and letter, February 21, 1994.]

 


 
1995 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielson)
1995 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Aldon Nielsen)

1995
December 6
Clinton

President and Participants: The President and Mrs. Clinton lit the National Christmas Tree. In his Christmas address, President Clinton urged Americans to pray for U.S. troops on peacekeeping missions abroad. He also asked to "Remember at this Christmas time we celebrate the birth of a homeless child whose only shelter was the straw of a manger but who grew to become the Prince of Peace."

The Tree: Living Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania (1978). The tree was decorated with 6,000 white, red, green, and blue lights.

For the first time, the National Christmas Tree was lit by solar energy.

Noteworthy Ceremony Elements: The federal government shutdown and the ensuing lapse of appropriations for all non-essential federally sponsored events, caused the cancellation of Pageant of Peace activities beginning on December 16. However, the National Park Service provided funds to light the tree and keep it lit as scheduled, through midnight on January 1, 1996. [NPS-WHL, Box TBP-58, "A 82(27) Pageant of Peace 1995," memo, December 15, 1995.]

Before the government shutdown, the decision was made to discontinue the display of Luray deer at the Pageant of Peace in response to a "rising level of concern in the society at large over the gratuitous use of animals for display purposes." The decision to do so conformed to the National Park Service's dedication to the preservation of wildlife in natural settings in parks throughout the country. [NPS-WHL, Box TBP-58, "A 82(27) Pageant of Peace 1995," "Reindeer Statement," November 30, 1995.]

Fifty-six smaller trees, decorated by each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, lined the Pathway of Peace. After the pageant the trees were replanted in Washington, DC parks. [NPS-WHL, Box TBP-58, "A 82(27) Pageant of Peace 1995," faxed copy of 1995 program, November 13, 1995.].

Theme: "Unity"

Performers/Celebrity Involvement: Kathy Lee Gifford, Denyce Graves, Jack Jones, and Willard Scott

Tree Topping: Tipper Gore, joined by ten-year-old Diante Walker and his sister, seven-year-old Kiona, topped the tree with John Betchkal on November 29. [Washington Post, November 30, 1995.]

Miscellaneous: A public meeting was held on November 3, 1995.

 


 
1996 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Rob Stern)
1996 National Christmas Tree (Photo by Rob Stern)

1996
December 5
Clinton

President and Participants: President Clinton gave a Christmas address and then he and Mrs. Clinton lit the National Christmas Tree together.

The Tree: Living Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania (1978). The tree was topped with a three-dimensional illuminated star designed by General Electric Lighting.

Noteworthy Ceremony Elements: The lights were turned off at 10:00 p.m. instead of 11:00 p.m.

The Office of Surface Mining rescinded their standing offer to locate, donate, and arrange for the donation of trees grown on reclaimed mining lands, due to the difficulty of finding trees that met these conditions. The Christmas Pageant of Peace thus began to purchase the state trees planted on the Ellipse.

Theme: "America"

Performers/Celebrity Involvement: Patti LeBelle, LeAnn Rimes, Mannheim Steamroller, Willard Scott. After 20 years of association to the Pageant, Willard Scott retired as the Christmas Pageant of Peace Santa Claus.

Tree Topping: Tipper Gore topped the tree with John Betchkal on November 25, 1996. [Washington Post, November 26, 1996.]

Miscellaneous: The Pageant Committee commissioned noted artist G. Harvey, known for his romantic scenes of Washington, D.C., to create an original tribute to this tree and the holiday celebration, titled "Light Unto the World." A total of 1950 regular edition prints, 250 artist proofs were produced to benefit the Pageant. All prints were numbered, signed by the artist and included a $10 commemorative stamp.

President's Park began coordinating the Evening Music Program this year.

 


 
1997 National Christmas Tree
1997 National Christmas Tree

1997
December 4
Clinton

President and Participants: President Clinton delivered a Christmas address and lit the tree with Mrs. Clinton.

The Tree: Living Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania (1978). The tree was decorated with 110,000 red, white and blue lights and was topped with a jewel-like star. [Washington Post, December 5, 1997; White House, Office of the Curator, National Christmas Tree Files, press release, February 2, 1998.]

Noteworthy Ceremony Elements: The National Christmas Tree Growers Association offered to donate cut Christmas trees for use as state trees. This offer would cause a switch from live trees to cut trees.

The U.S. Coast Guard Band performed a prelude and a postlude.

The Christmas Pageant of Peace issued and sold a series of commemorative prints of the National Christmas Tree.

Theme: "Peace"

Performers/Celebrity Involvement: Lorrie Morgan, Placido Domingo, Martha Reeves. Gregory Peck served as master of ceremonies, and Robert Prosky played as Santa Claus.

Tree Topping: Tipper Gore topped the tree on November 25 with the help of two children from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, eight-year-old Kelly Wroblewski and twelve-year-old Derrick Moore. [Press Release, Make-A-Wish Foundation, November 24, 1997.]

Miscellaneous: A public meeting was held on November 13, 1997.

 


 
1998 National Christmas Tree (NPS Photo)
1998 National Christmas Tree (NPS Photo)

1998
December 9
Clinton
75th Anniversary

President and Participants: President Clinton with the assistance of First Lady, Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Brownie Jessica Scott and Cub Scout Edgar Allan Shepherd, Jr. and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs lit the National Christmas Tree.

The Tree: Living Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania (1978). For the 36th year, GE Lighting donated the design. The tree was decorated with almost 100,000 lights in customary holiday colors of red, green and clear, along with golden and red sparkling ornaments and accents to decorate the tree. Golden hologram-like material and gold pinstriping outlined the points of the stars' sparkle with vibrancy for daytime enjoyment as well as evening.

Fifty-six state, territory and District of Columbia trees lined the Pathway of Peace. The trees were donated by Ron Hudler of West Jefferson, North Carolina.

A model train displayed around the base of the National Christmas Tree was provided by Polk Aristocrat Trains, Inc. of Jersey City, New Jersey.

Noteworthy Ceremony Event: This lighting ceremony was celebrated as the 75th Anniversary of the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.

Performers/Celebrity Involvement: Al Roker, weatherman and feature reporter, on NBC- TV's Today Show served as Santa Claus (first African American Santa for the Pageant) and Master of Ceremonies.

Guest entertainers included singer Tony Bennett, singer and musician Jose Feliciano, and opera soprano Leona Mitchell. The US Air Force Band, also known as "America's International Music Ambassador." Also performing were select members from the Paul Hill Chorale and a few cast members from the musical "Cats".

For children's entertainment, the costume characters were Jim Henson Television's Bear in the Big Blue House; The Kidsongs Television Show's colorful Biggles (Ruby and Billy); and The National Theatre's Barrymore Eagle.

Weather Condition: Clear and cool, slight breeze

Tree Topping: On Tuesday, December 1, Tipper Gore, the Vice President's wife topped the National Christmas Tree. Mrs. Gore was assisted by John Betchkal, chairman of the Christmas Pageant of Peace and accompanied by Tiffany Ann Cantey of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The tree top was a three-dimensional, luminous white, four-diamond star.

Miscellaneous: The Pageant program cover was a reproduction of the painting, "Christmas at the White House," by Sally Caldwell Fisher of Chamberlain, Maine.

It was opened for the public from 10 am to 11 pm. Evening program, from 6:00 to 8:30 pm for the Pageant started on December 10 and concluded on December 23. These schools, church, civic and private groups were mostly from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, with some groups from Pennsylvania and South Carolina. The Pageant site remained open until January 1, 1999. The food stand operated by Guest Services, Inc. (GSI) sold refreshments for the first year, response from the public was positive.

Groups and Organizations: The Christmas Pageant of Peace, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the National Park Service, and the Washington Convention and Visitors Association.

 


 
1999 National Christmas Tree
1999 National Christmas Tree

1999
December 8
Clinton

President and Participants: President Clinton with the assistance of Brownie Caitlin Fong and Cub Scout Chris Alvarez lit the National Christmas Tree. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was unable to attend due to a previous commitment.

The Tree: Living Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania (1978). (In the Spring of 1999, the tree was pruned.) For the 37th year, GE Lighting donated the lights. The tree was decorated with more than 75,000 lights in customary holiday colors of red, green and clear along with red garland, and large bow and poinsettia flower ornaments.

Every year, Hargrove donate the decorations for the National Christmas Tree and the smaller trees surrounding the Pageant site.

Fifty-six state, territory and District of Columbia trees lined the Pathway of Peace.

Polk Aristo-Craft Trains provided a model train display around the base of the National Christmas Tree.

On New Year’s Eve, at 10 p.m., the multicolored lights on the tree turned to all white in honor of the Millennium.

Performers/Celebrity Involvement:: Al Roker, weather and feature reporter, on NBC-TV’s Today Show served as Santa Claus and master of ceremonies for the second year.

Guest entertainers included singer Wayne Newton, opera soprano Renee Fleming, and country singer Marty Stuart. The U. S. Marine Band, also known as "The President’s Own," provided music. Also performing were the Urban Nation H.I.P. H.O.P. Choir and select cast members from the musical "Chicago."

For children’s entertainment, the costume characters were Six Flags America’s Looney Tunes characters "Bugs Bunny, Sylvester, Tweety, Daffy, Foghorn Leghorn and Taz." Pikachu of the Nintendo’s Pokemon; and a magician and variety of clowns.

Outstanding Weather Conditions: Mild, slight breeze, and temperature in the low fifties.

Tree Topping: On Thursday, December 2, Tipper Gore, the Vice President’s wife topped the National Christmas Tree. Mrs. Gore was assisted by Peter Nostrand, president of the Christmas Pageant of Peace and accompanied by Gavin Fugere and Patricia Moriarity, top fund raisers in a walk-a-thon to help homeless people.

Miscellaneous: Evening programs, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m., for the Pageant started on December 9 and concluded on December 30. Hours of operation for the Pageant were 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Various schools, church, civic and private groups performed during the evening programs. These groups were mostly from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, with some groups from Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Connecticut. The Pageant site remained open until January 2, 2000.

For the second year Guest Services Incorporated operated the food stand, expanding the selection of refreshments.

Groups and Organizations: The Christmas Pageant of Peace, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the National Park Service, the Washington Convention and Visitors Association, and the White House Historical Association.

 


 
2000 National Christmas Tree (NPS Photo)
2000 National Christmas Tree (NPS Photo)

2000
December 11
Clinton

President and Participants: President Bill Clinton with the assistance of Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton and their daughter Chelsea lit the National Christmas Tree.

The Tree: Living Colorado blue spruce from Pennsylvania (1978). For the 38th year, GE Lighting donated the lights. "Tradition" was the design emphasis for this year's tree. The tree was decorated with more than 125,000 lights in holiday colors of green and clear. Tree ornaments included gold garland, 70 gold balls with red ribbons, and 100 hand-fabricated snowflakes. The tree topper was a large snowflake.

Fifty-six state, territory and District of Columbia trees lined the Pathway of Peace.

Polk Aristo-Craft Trains provided an expanded model train display with more trains and a small village around the base of the National Christmas Tree.

A permanent wrought iron fence was installed around the tree, replacing the existing chain link fence.

Performers/Celebrity Involvement: Al Roker, weather and feature reporter, on NBC-TV's Today Show again served as Santa Claus and master of ceremonies.

Guest entertainers included 14-year-old classical soprano Charlotte Church from Wales, 12-year-old country singer Billy Gilman, and country singer Kathy Mattea. The U. S. Navy Band provided music. Also performing were the West Tennessee Youth Chorus from Memphis and select cast members from the musical "Fosse," featuring Riva Rice.

Gold Medalist Olympian Dominique Dawes introduced Camp Fire Boy and Girl, Kwame Jama Dennis and Anastasia Marie Wroblewski.

For children's entertainment, greetings and good cheer were provided by four clowns, a juggler, a magician, and Mother Christmas. The appearance of characters "Zak" and "Wheezie" was made possible through the generosity of Sesame Workshop and Sony Family Pictures Entertainment Group.

Outstanding Weather Conditions: Mild, slight breeze, and temperature in the high 30s.

Tree Topping: On Thursday, November 30, Tipper Gore, the Vice President's
wife topped the National Christmas Tree. Mrs. Gore was assisted by Peter Nostrand, president of the Christmas Pageant of Peace and accompanied by Marion Young and Brenda Rodriquez, students at Ramond Elementary School in Prince George's County, Maryland.

Miscellaneous: The Pageant site was opened through January 1, 2001. Hours of operation for the Pageant were 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Evening programs, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m., for the Pageant started on December 12 and concluded on December 30. Various schools, church, civic and private groups performed during the evening programs. Groups were mostly from Maryland and Virginia, with some groups from the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Ohio.

The program cover was a reproduction of a painting by Thomas Kinkade, America's most collected living artist. The painting, entitled "The Lights of Liberty," was painted at the invitation of the Christmas Pageant of Peace. The Thomas Kinkade Foundation donated proceeds of this print to help fund this and future National Christmas Tree lighting ceremonies. Mr. Kinkade and his wife sat with other dignitaries in the presidential box.

For the third year, Guest Services Incorporated operated the food stand, expanding the selection of refreshments.

Groups and Organizations: The Christmas Pageant of Peace and the National Park Service.

 

Last updated: January 5, 2016

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