Since President Coolidge started the tradition in 1923, the National Christmas tree lighting ceremony has embodied the country’s spirit. The ceremony is headed by the First Family and marks the beginning of the holiday season and the Pageant of Peace. Today is President’s Day, and we thought it would be the perfect time to look back at the National Christmas Trees from the last 17 years.

An Ode to Tradition (2000)

Accompanied by wife Hilary and daughter Chelsea, President Bill Clinton presided over his last National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. “Tradition” was the theme of the 2000 National Christmas Tree, and the towering living Colorado Blue Spruce was decked in gold ornaments and red ribbons. A large, pre-lit snowflake topper complemented the 100 snowflake ornaments that adorned the tree.

A Patriotic Nod (2001)

Red, white, and blue was the motif of George W. Bush’s inaugural tree. The tree was lit with 100,000 clear and blue lights, and featured cascading red garlands. The golden glow of 100 star ornaments offered contrast to the blue background lights, while a large lighted star drove home the patriotic theme.

Tale of Two Lights (2002)

The highlight of the 2002 National Christmas tree was the gorgeous cross-fading lights that gradually changed from gold to green in a stunning visual display. Completing the beautiful light show were cascading red garlands, wreath-shaped ornaments, and a snowflake topper that were all pre-lit with bright LEDs.

80 Years of Tradition (2003)

Decorated in traditional holiday colors, the 2003 tree celebrated 80 years of the lighting tradition. This year, the living Colorado Blue Spruce was lined with red, green, blue, and gold lights. An abundance of lighted candle and snowflake ornaments made for a vivid ensemble.

Dashing by Day (2004)

The 2004 National Christmas tree was decorated with 120 reflective suncatchers that made the tree sparkle during daytime. At night, 15,000 multicolor lights, 130 lighted star ornaments, and a Lexan star tree topper brought the evergreen to life.

Snowflakes and Sparkles (2005)

It was a sparkling scene on the Ellipse in December 2005 as the National Tree was draped in 25,000 clear lights. 105 custom snowflake ornaments were also lit with clear bulbs and featured a blue holographic vinyl accent. In keeping with the theme, the design featured snowflake shaped suncatchers and a large, multi-dimensional snowflake tree topper.

Bringing Back Childhood Memories (2006)

Inspired by Christmas childhood memories, this year’s tree featured reverse painted ornaments in red, blue, orange, and green. The ornaments featured a holographic backing that created a halo effect when the tree was lit. The 42-inch star tree topper was double sided and had a holographic board that featured intricate scrollwork.

Elegant and Efficient (2007)

GE put LED technology in the forefront as it decked out the Colorado Spruce mostly with energy efficient lights. The cascading red garlands and a 42-inch star tree topper were also lit with LEDs. Meanwhile, 125 lighted red bow ornaments proved to be the tree’s most captivating feature.

Santa’s Workshop Introduced (2008)

The designer of the 2008 National Christmas tree went with a minimalist theme, choosing to partner smaller star shaped ornaments with 45,000 LED bulbs. The tree ornaments also featured a gold holographic film that made the tree sparkle during daytime, similar to the tree 4 years earlier. This year, Santa’s Workshop became part of the Pageant of Peace.

In with the Old and with the New (2009)

The trend of minimalism and energy efficiency continued in 2009. Lit entirely with LED lights, the tree utilized ⅓ of the energy consumed by its predecessor. In their first year, the Obamas opted to recycle pieces from 2008, 2004, and 1998, including the star ornaments and the three-dimensional star topper.

A Legend’s Farewell (2010)

Snowflake ornaments with red, blue, green, and clear ornaments were the stars of the show in 2010—the last time the living Colorado Spruce from Pennsylvania, transplanted in 1978, would be lit. In February 2011, a windstorm felled the tree and was replaced by a new living Colorado Spruce from New Jersey.

A Brief Cameo (2011)

The new Colorado Blue Spruce made a cameo in 2011, featuring lit snowflake ornaments and multicolored lights. The 42-inch, three-dimensional star topper made another appearance this year. Unfortunately, the tree from New Jersey was pronounced dead due to transplant shock in May of 2012 and was replaced later that year.

A New Beacon (2012)

On the 90th year of the lighting tradition, 120 lit star ornaments accompanied by 450 LED string lights graced the new living Colorado Blue Spruce from Virginia. The total energy consumption for the tree was 4,000 watts—a far cry from the 20,000 watts needed to power the tree in 2008. The tree shared the same overall appearance as previous years, and the same star tree topper from 2010 was used.

The Return of the Garland (2013)

Brighter, multicolored sugarplum LED lights were used alongside 60,000 LED lights to illuminate the tree in 2013. Unlike previous years, garlands were included in the ensemble. Eight twinkling glass ball garlands were wrapped around the tree, accentuating its conical shape. The three-dimensional star topper was used again, but refurbished to feature improved lighting.

Clean and Classic (2014)

A rectangular garland mesh in bright red was wrapped around the National Christmas tree in 2014, giving it a clean, uniform look. Clear LED lights and bright snowflake ornaments in traditional holiday colors highlighted the tree’s foliage, while the star tree topper made another appearance.

A Centennial Celebration (2015)

The regal motif of the 2015 National Christmas tree honored the Centennial Anniversary of the National Park Services. For the 7th year in a row, GE used only LED lights, including 600 micro-net lights and complementary twinkling icicle lights. Gold net lights were encased in gold ribbon mesh to create the vertical garlands, while illuminated white stars arranged along the ribbon added contrast.

A Look Back (2016)

In 2016, the tree designers went the minimal route once again and omitted the garland accents from the past three years. Sugarplum LED lights in opaque red, white, and blue along with white micro-net lights were used. The cascading star ornaments and star tree topper were recycled from previous years, reminiscent of the first National Christmas tree of the Obama administration.

Similar to the presidents we honor today, the National Christmas Tree is a beacon of hope and peace for our country. We hope you enjoyed our President’s Day tribute to the National Christmas tree!

For more fun facts and Christmas tree features, visit the Treetopia Blog today!

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