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Programming Note: Lighting of National Christmas Tree Will Be Televised This Year


Didn't win the lottery to see the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in person? Well, you can still watch the big event either live via your trusty computer or a day later by turning on your television.

The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation say public television stations nationwide will broadcast the 2009 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony this year for the first time. In partnership with WETA, Washington, D.C.’s flagship public broadcasting station, public television stations will begin airing the 60-minute lighting ceremony on Friday, December 4, and continue throughout the holiday season. Check your local public station schedules for exact broadcast dates and times.

In addition, the public will be able to view the lighting ceremony live on Thursday, December 3 at 5:00 p.m. EST/4 p.m. CST/3 p.m. MST/2:00 p.m. PST at The public is also invited to visit the interactive site now and throughout the holiday season to experience all the behind-the-scenes festivities of the event from the story of the first National Christmas Tree to the one-of-a-kind ornaments made each year by ordinary Americans to hang on 56 trees – one for every U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia. Visitors to the site may also create their own customized, interactive e-card for the holidays.

A first-time lottery for free tickets to the ceremony saw approximately 37,000 people submit their names for a chance to attend the tree lighting. The lighting of the tree, a living blue spruce from Pennsylvania that was planted on the Ellipse behind the White House many years ago, will not only delight the gathered multitude, but also trigger a month-long Pageant of Peace celebration featuring the usual impressive array of holiday-themed activities and big-name entertainment. Celebrity performers who will help celebrate at the ceremony will be announced next week.

The National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is presented by the National Park Foundation and National Park Service.


Am I correct thinking the National Christmas Tree last year came from the Bitterroot Valley in Montana? I thought my Mom told me it was transported from somewhere near Hamilton or Missoula. Does anyone know if that was or will be the case this year?

I'm thinking last year's tree was from Montana, Eric, and that this year's is from West Virginia. Professor Bob knows the answer, I believe....

The tree that is the star of the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony is a living Colorado blue spruce tree that was planted some years ago on the Ellipse just south of the White House. If memory serves, that one came from Pennsylvania. Yet another "national Christmas tree" -- a harvested one -- is donated each year by the National Christmas Tree Association and displayed in the Blue Room of the White House; I believe that this year's comes from West Virginia. If you don't find that confusing enough, consider that there's a third national Christmas tree in the mix. it's the Capital Christmas Tree, an annual gift to the U.S. Congress in the form of a huge Christmas tree installed on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The states take turns furnishing that tree. I think that this year's is a 75-footer from Arizona.

Thanks for the information guys! I remember talking to my Mom and some friends in Hamilton Mt. They were very proud of thier tree traveling to the Capitol. Happy Holidays All!

There is "Our Nation's Christmas Tree" as designated by President Coolidge:

They place a big 'ol wreath at the base of the tree every Christmas Day.

Per our local newscast, a tree was just cut down here in Arizona a day or two ago and is headed to Washington. It came from our White Mountains in the eastern part of the state. It is currently "on tour" - I believe it was in Phoenix today. Extra measures have been taken to preserve it so that it remains fresh through the holiday season.

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