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USA Radio
November 9, 2015

The 2014 National Christmas Tree Lighting Is a Sparkling Success

By Claire Volkman

For 92 years, the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony has been the official kickoff to the holiday season in Washington, D.C. The ceremony began in 1923, with a local choir and a small quartet, and has transformed into a globally televised event, with A-list actors and award-winning musicians.

This year, despite the chilly temperature, we joined more than 17,000 lucky people for the annual ceremony in President’s Park, home to the White House; it was a rocking success! The beautiful tree will remain lit every night until January 1 for visitors and locals to enjoy.

Academy Award winner Tom Hanks and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, hosted the ceremony, which included appearances by President Barack Obama and his family.

Even though Hanks’ jokes kept us laughing and the music kept us dancing in our seats, the highlight of the evening was getting to hear about Google’s new initiative Made with Code, which aims to inspire young girls to explore computer science. The initiative’s success was represented by the work of 50 girls — one from each U.S. state — who wrote the computer code to create a unique lighting pattern for the trees that surround the White House's main outdoor Christmas tree. The result was a stunning demonstration of the innovative spirit of our nation’s young women.

Other memorable moments from the ceremony included performances by several talented and popular musicians. R&B icon Patti LaBelle kicked off the show with a cheerful rendition of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” which got everyone into the spirit for the countdown to the tree’s lighting. After the tree was illuminated, the United States Marine Band played a few of our favorite Christmas carols, including “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

The evening’s entertainment continued with Grammy Award–winning singer and songwriter Ne-Yo’s soothing rendition of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” which had the entire crowd singing along.

Next, first lady Michelle Obama and Little League female pitching sensation Mo’ne Davis read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to a few very lucky children allowed to take the stage with them.

The ceremony ended with uplifting words from President Obama about our troops, followed by a final number by Ne-Yo and the other musical performers, who gathered to sing “What Christmas Means to Me.”

You can watch the entire tree-lighting ceremony here.

 Claire Volkman

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