Tuesday, December 11, 2012

National Christmas Tree Lighting

Last week, we had the pleasure of attending the 90th lighting of the National Christmas Tree at President's Park next to the White House (not to be confused with the Capitol Christmas Tree in front of the Capitol Building).

It was very exciting to see President Obama and family light the tree.  After the former tree was felled by a storm and the 2011 tree died of transplant shock, it was nice seeing a healthy-looking and not scraggly 2012 tree.  Let's hope this one lasts for generations to come!

Musical performances by acts such as Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz got everyone in the holiday spirit.

James Taylor's rendition of Winter Wonderland gave us happy chills (to go with our "we've been standing in the cold for hours" chills).  Is there a more soothing voice on the planet?

Neil Patrick Harris (a.k.a. Barney wait-for-it Stinson) did a fabulous job as host, keeping the show moving and interjecting his own special blend of humor.

We highly recommend braving the cold next year to attend the tree lighting.  If you're interested, here are our top tips for maximum enjoyment:
  • Enter the online free ticket lottery in late October (have all of your friends do it to increase your chances).
  • If you get Standing Room Only tickets like we did, don't be deterred because you can still see the stage if you go early enough.  They also have giant screens to help you see the action up close.
  • Send at least one member of your party to get there right when the gates open.  I arrived at 2:30 p.m. for the 3:00 p.m. gate opening and was at the very front of the Standing Room Only section.  B arrived at 4:00 p.m. and had to wait in a ginormous line, but was able to wriggle his way up to me.
  • Dress very, very warmly because you'll be standing in one spot for hours.
  • Before the show (between 4:30 and 5:00 pm), if the seats aren't all filled, they will allow Standing Room Only people to fill the seats.  Look for this and be ready to move.  We were happy with our standing spot, but lots of standers were able to snag seats.
  • Don't leave once the President lights the tree! He does this at the beginning of the show but then comes back later to speak.  So many people left right after the Obamas lit the tree and they missed all the fun stuff.
  • Again, dress very, very warmly so you don't have to leave before the show is over!
Happy Holidays to you!

Second Thoughts From B

Whether you like the President or not, you can't deny that he can draw ridiculously high-powered talent to play shows in DC.  Better yet, many of these opportunities are free.  Let's look at that last photo for a second.  In addition to the aforementioned James Taylor, Colbie Caillat, Jason Mraz, and Neil Patrick Harris, the first family is joined on stage by The Fray, Ledisi, American Idol winner Phillip Phillips, Babyface, and Modern Family's Rico Rodriguez.  Heck, even Santa Claus himself joined in! 

It may be dismissed as a touristy and crowded mess in the cold, but not only are we happy we got to go, we'd love to do it again.

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