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Carbon's gift to Washington

  • First lady Michelle Obama with daughters Sasha and Malia officially welcome the arrival of the Christmas tree at the North Portico. Walking behind the first lady is Chris and Brandi Botek of the Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton.
    First lady Michelle Obama with daughters Sasha and Malia officially welcome the arrival of the Christmas tree at the North Portico. Walking behind the first lady is Chris and Brandi Botek of the Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton.
Published November 27. 2010 09:00AM

WASHINGTON (AP) - 'Tis now the season at the White House.

A day after celebrating Thanksgiving, the White House shifted into Christmas mode on Friday as Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha accepted the gift of an 18 1/2-foot Douglas fir from Carbon County as the official White House Christmas Tree.

The tree was hauled through the White House gates by horse-drawn carriage and presented to the Obamas by Christopher Botek. It was grown on his family's Christmas tree farm in Lehighton - the second time the farm has supplied the White House with its official tree.

Botek's parents presented a tree in 2006, during the George W. Bush years.

Botek, who brought his wife and two daughters to the White House, said he was honored to hand over the fir.

"It doesn't get any bigger than this for us as Christmas tree growers," he said.

Mrs. Obama and her daughters walked around the carriage to inspect the tree and the first lady bent over to take in the fragrance. She asked her daughters for their opinion and they gave the tree a unanimous thumbs-up.

"We'll take it," Mrs. Obama exclaimed.

The tree will go on display in the Blue Room and is typically the main attraction for the thousands of people who stream through the mansion in December for holiday parties and public tours. White House staffers and volunteers will decorate it.

Botek earned the right to donate a tree by winning a National Christmas Tree Association contest. White House staff then visited the winner's farm to choose the official tree.

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