Dale Hudler of Hudler Carolina Tree Farms traveled to our nation’s capital for the tenth consecutive year to present this year’s trees for the Pageant of Peace tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 4.
Essentially, the ceremony is the official national outdoor tree lighting ceremony that “commences the beginning of the Christmas season,” Hudler said.
The Pageant of Peace ceremony represents trees from all fifty states, five territories, and the District of Columbia as it forms the “Pathway of Peace” on the White House’s Ellipse, the National Park Service’s Website stated. Much of the ceremony is led by the Commander in Chief, President George W. Bush.
Donated trees from Hudler’s farm and other festive Christmas scenes surround the 60-foot centerpiece that is lit each year. The entire ceremony takes place on the White House’s Ellipse which is just south of the building. This year’s National Christmas Tree is a living Colorado Blue Spruce Pine, the NPS stated. Cut trees have not been used as the centerpiece of the ceremony since 1973.
According to the NPS, the Pageant of Peace and the National Christmas Tree program first began in 1923 when First Lady Grace Coolidge gave permission to the District of Columbia’s schools to erect a tree on the Ellipse of the White House. Shortly after the First Lady’s approval, President Coolidge “flipped the switch” to light up the nation’s first Christmas tree which was a Vermont Balsam fir. The inaugural autumnal event was hosted by the community department of Washington, D.C public schools, NPS stated.
Each subsequent year, the President of the United States has participated in the national holiday tradition. Although the tree lighting ceremony has relocated to various locations across the White House lawn over the years, it made a permanent return trip to the Ellipse in 1954 which was the first year the “Pathways of Peace” project began. According to The White House’s governmental Website, the tree stands as a daily reminder of the holiday spirit and of the tradition each succeeding President has participated in since 1923.
Although Hudler was honored to make the return trip to Washington for the annual ceremony, he explained that the local award winning growers are the ones who have put Ashe County on the map in terms of notoriety in the industry.
“It’s an honor on behalf of Hudler Tree Farms and an honor for our families to donate trees to the White House every year,” Hudler said. “We are also so proud of all the great growers who have made Ashe County the Christmas tree capital of the world.”
The prestigious holiday extravaganza was an invite only event and the Hudlers were invited to a White House reception following the lighting ceremony.