WASHINGTON (AP/The Blaze) — Christmas has arrived in Washington.
With the flip of a switch, President Barack Obama lit the National Christmas Tree — a 40-foot Colorado blue spruce growing on a grassy area near the White House known as the Ellipse. This year's celebration marked the country's 88th tree-lighting.
Obama was accompanied by his wife, Michelle, his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, and daughters Malia and Sasha.
B.B. King was among the performers at the hour-long event Thursday afternoon, a program which included a reading of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" by the First Lady.
President Obama delivered brief remarks to the crowd, noting his religion during a short discussion of the story of Christmas: "It's a story that's dear to Michelle and me as Christians but it's a message that's universal."
The tradition dates to 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge presided over the first lighting of a national Christmas tree.