First Family Lights National Christmas Tree | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Holiday Gift Guide 2016

First Family Lights National Christmas Tree

Among the acts performing at the ceremony are the Lumineers, Garth Brooks, Kelly Clarkson and Chance the Rapper

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    President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughter Sasha lit the National Christmas Tree on Dec. 1, 2016. This is the last time the Obamas will light the tree as they prepare to leave the White House. (Published Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016)

    Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have lit the National Christmas Tree for the last time as president and first lady Thursday. 

    The 94th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting took place on the Ellipse at the White House Thursday evening.

    The first couple and daughter Sasha took the stage to light the tree after a musical performance by Kelly Clarkson. The president briefly spoke to the gathered crowd.

    Tickets to the ceremony were required; they were available through a lottery held in October.

    Those without tickets can see the entire show Monday on the Hallmark Channel. In addition to Clarkson, the Lumineers, Garth Brooks, Chance the Rapper, James Taylor and Yolanda Adams were just a few of the performers scheduled to perform.

    The ceremony is rounding out the National Park Service's Centennial year. 

     

    President Calvin Coolidge began the tree lighting tradition in 1923, lighting a 48-foot fir tree decked out with 2,500 electric bulbs on the Ellipse. The tree was switched to LED lights in 2007.

    And the tree itself has changed over the years. In early 2011, the tree that had served as the National Christmas Tree for more than three decades was felled by high winds. Its replacement was planted a month later and was lit for Christmas 2011, but died the following spring due to complications from transplant shock.

    The current tree, a Colorado blue spruce, was planted on the Ellipse in fall 2012 and has been used for the lighting ever since.

    White House Christmas Trees Through the YearsWhite House Christmas Trees Through the Years