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Contact: Bill Line/Toni Braxton, 202-619-7222
Sustained winds at 25 mph and wind gusts up to 50 mph snapped the National Christmas Tree located on the Ellipse, immediately south of the White House, and on the site of the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at approximately 10:55 a.m. on February 19th, 2011.
At approximately 3:00 p.m., National Park Service (NPS) maintenance staff began mulching the remains of the National Christmas tree and just after 5:30 p.m. the tree mulching was complete. The NPS has identified a successor tree and will announce later this spring when the new tree will be transplanted to the Ellipse to become the new National Christmas tree.
The 42-foot Colorado blue spruce had been in its current location for more than 32 years, having been transplanted to the Ellipse in October 1978 from the Myers family farm located just outside of York, PA. The tree had been planted and watered by the Myers’ grandchildren. When the tree was six years old it had been planted in the Myers’ front yard as a Mother’s Day gift for Mrs. Myers. After discussions with the NPS horticulturists, the Myers agreed to let the tree go to become the nation’s Christmas tree.
While we are all saddened by the loss of the tree that has provided so much joy to people over the years, we recognize that it is also a moment of renewal and new beginnings.
With the help of the National Park Service Regional Horticulturist and the park Horticulturist\Certified Arborist the NPS identified and acquired a successor tree a couple of years ago. It is being cared for off site. We will be working to get the planting bed prepared and will be setting up a tree planting of the new tree in the near future.
The National Christmas Tree has witnessed much during the 32 years it has lived on the Ellipse. Six Presidents and their families have lived in the White House, lighting the tree each year with a message of peace for the world. Millions of people have seen the tree as they viewed the White House and its South Grounds. Near the tree, hundreds of thousands of Americans have exercised their First Amendment rights to demonstrate for and against a wide variety of causes. Local softball and soccer games have been played in the tree’s shadow. Christmas is a special time in and around the White House, and this National Christmas Tree from York, PA had been a highlight of the just-past holiday season.
Previous National Christmas Trees have been located in Sherman Park (immediately south of the Treasury building), Lafayette Park and on the White House grounds.