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National Parks Contribute Holiday Ornaments to White House Christmas Tree


Holiday ornaments depicting scenes from the national parks are dangling from the White House Christmas tree, a nod to the National Park Service's upcoming centennial.

The ornaments from across the park system were designed by artists -- some active-duty rangers, some retired, some professional artists.

“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 Park Service Director Mary 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.”

Throughout the White House 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.

The official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room, an 18-foot-tall Fraser fir from North Carolina, is adorned with 347 handmade ornaments depicting national parks. “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 resulting ornaments vary greatly in design, from one that depicts the Historic Entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park to another that captures the jaw-dropping horizon at Grand Teton National Park.

Accompanying the White House Christmas tree is a scaled-down, but architecturally accurate, gingerbread reproduction of the south view of the White House, a unit of the National Park Service. Bush family pets Barney, Miss Beazley, and Willie can be seen frolicking on the lawn with moose, elk, raccoons, and other animals found in national parks.

You can see how some of the ornaments turned out at this site. Plus, the Traveler will be featuring an ornament a day on its home page during the coming weeks.

Unfortunately, replicas of these ornaments are not for sale.


I think it's a wonderful homage to our National Parks, and I, personally, would love to see the vistas portrayed on the ornaments. At least, our National Parks have been brought to the front of everyone's mind and maybe in so doing, people will become more interested in their preservation. Laura Bush is a powerful advocate of our National Parks and bringing these images to the forefront is a good way to get people thinking.

What is the big hubbub about the ornaments on the tree? I keep reading stories all over the internet about this. First of all, for me personally as a District resident (albeit one about to move to Montana in a few weeks) the only reason I've been to the Yellowstone Christmas tree was to protest the war in Iraq. And, even then, you're forced to stand on a street corner pretty far away from the tree, which I honestly in all my years here have never seen and never cared to see.

Nice irony that a tree has been chopped down to honor places where trees are generally left to stand, even long after they are dead.

If you are coming to DC, come see the town. I don't know how many come just to see the Christmas tree (probably too many); I'm astounded every year to hear a million people come every year just to see the cherry blossom festival. And, as for the homage to the parks, I'm at least glad some local artists got some money out of it. Beyond that, I don't know why this has gotten any smidgen of ink in the press (and it's gotten a fair amount).

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

Wow, that anti-ornament rant sure was a downer!

I'm not particularly interested in the tree or the ornaments but some people really dig it so why not let them have their fun?

Happy holidays!

I'd be interested in seeing the ornament for Andersonville Prison (NHS).

I'm just amazed at all the STUFF that the WhiteHouse puts out and probably needs to be stored for posterity somewhere in Oxon Hill or College Park in the mother of all warehouses.

But wait! Where's the White House menorah made from Klondike Gold Rush ore? And how about the White House's Kwanzaa Mkeka made from the Tallgrass Prarie Nat'l Preserve??

I agree about the rant on the ornaments being a downer.It was not in any way helpful to our parks, or really about the parks. It was only negative and jaded. It is good to read other posts about hope and care for our parks.

As the mother of one of the designers of a Christmas tree ball, I would like to see the ball and would like to be able to buy a copy for the benefit of that National Park,

So what if it was a downer? If love of the national parks is so sensitive and tenuous that my own experience here with the White House Christmas tree so affects you, then there's really little hope (but of course there's hope). I deeply love the places that are our national parks with an intense passion, especially the places that have touched my experience. I even deeply love places probably no one would think to love - a tree drooping in Lafayette Park, a bench used by a homeless man in Franklin Square, a mile marker on the GW Parkway, a little cave in Great Falls National Park, birds along the C&O Canal. And, that's a smidgen of ink I would care to read.

I don't care to read about lip service paid by the White House on its annual Christmas tree, a place where I know the context of such events. I know that while the Administration glories in the festivities of the tree (just like pardoning the turkey that dies within a year from the hormones pumped into it) that has been chopped down, they undermine the so called democracy this country has even when doing that. A friend of mine for years has organized protest Christmas caroling, trying to draw attention to the wars of this country - he's treated like a danger to the nation and set off by himself. But, that's just standard fare for detractors in the country - the stories I could tell you (that one's nothing). Jaded? You bet! I'm angry that places that are worth loving have been co-opted by a government that doesn't care at all about them. They co-opt Christmas, they co-opt trees, and they co-opt parks (and create "parks" in the first place - places that are so much more). And, if parks advocates are happy for the scrap of attention, and feel the need for this display to raise our spirits, that's going to bring out the cynic in me every time, especially one placed in the local situation and the local context where I can see the environment, see the homeless freezing on those park benches, having been out there at nights at times trying to check on them. There is plenty of joy even in those moments, but no I'm not prepared to let people just have their fun when I see the expense of that fun all around me; there's more to the ornament on the tree, there's the world around that tree as well - and there's joy there, too - believe me).

Because, deep down, I'm not the least bit jaded or cynical and know we can do a whole lot better than this, that there's a lot more deserving our ink and our press, in terms of both the District of Columbia (its parks or its people), and in terms of the national parks at large. In this context, it's partly my own fault, as Kurt and Jeremy have invited me to write here, and I have yet to do so. But, it's still frustrating to see things like this in the newspapers. I've been forced to share reports in my own newspaper. There is so much we might say; that there are ornaments on the national Christmas tree featuring national parks is not something worth our time when we consider the full context of this display. And, not just my time, but I'd challenge us to look deep down in our experiences and know that there's much more we can share and do on behalf of the parks, on behalf of places very special to us. Because, deep down, we don't have to take joy in a cynical display but from the community of action and shared experience that can do something better.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

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