WASHINGTON – The National Christmas Tree at the White House and President’s Park was replaced due to needle cast, according to the National Park Service, but another was planted just in time for the annual lighting.
The NPS, which manages the White House and President’s Park in the nation’s capital, said needle cast is a fungal disease that causes needles on spruce, pine and other conifer trees to turn brown and fall off.
Working with the USDA Forest Service, the NPS found a tree to replace the previous one, which was planted in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30, 2021. The new tree is a cut 40-foot Norway spruce from Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, and it was planted in the Ellipse just south of the White House.
The impact of needle cast ranges. As far as an individual tree goes, such as the replaced National Christmas Tree, needle cast can cause a Christmas tree to become less aesthetically pleasing.
On a larger scale, such as Christmas tree farms, needle cast can mean tremendous losses for Christmas tree growers and sellers, according to North Carolina State University.
The replacement comes weeks before the National Christmas Tree Lighting, which will take place on Nov. 30.
History of the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
According to the NPS, the tree lighting tradition dates back just over a century to 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge pressed a button to turn on 2,500 light bulbs that were strung around the first National Christmas Tree.
In addition to spreading holiday cheer, the event was meant to help encourage Americans to adopt the use of electricity.
While some Americans had already started using electricity to light up their homes by the first National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, the number of homes that used electricity jumped from 30% in the 1920s to 68% in 1930.
Tickets to see this year’s National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony have already been given to lottery winners. However, the National Christmas Tree site will be open to the public starting Dec. 2.