WASHINGTON — With a little help from the world’s most famous green frog, US President Barack Obama and the first family Thursday lit up the national Christmas tree in the heart of the capital city.
Kermit the Frog, one of the irrepressible Muppets, was on hand for the traditional lighting ceremony which dates back to 1923.
“For 89 years, presidents and Americans have come together to light the national Christmas tree,” Obama told thousands of people gathered for the event. “This year is a special one. This year, we have a brand new tree.”
A February storm brought down the previous tree which was planted on its spot in 1978, so a new Colorado blue spruce has been found to stand on the Ellipse, just meters from the White House.
“The last one stood here for more than 30 years, before we lost it in a storm earlier this year. But we all know that this tradition is much larger than any single tree,” Obama said.
“This is the new tree, I know it’s not quite as big as the old tree, but it’s going to take time to grow. But we’re going to fill it up with spirit and start a new tradition right now.”
The US president was joined by his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters Sasha and Malia, as well as his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, who he dubbed “grandmother-in-chief.”
“In this holiday season, we affirm our commitment to each other, as family members, as neighbors, as Americans, regardless of our color, or creed or faith, let us remember that we are one, we are a family,” Obama said.
And as he threw the switch, Obama added: “That’s a good-looking tree.”
The Obamas then joined in with singing some Christmas songs, and a ceremony was laid on including appearances by Kermit and performances from Big Time Rush and Ellie Goulding.