White House greets military families at Christmas display debut

The White House is decked out with holiday decorations Wednesday, November 28, 2012, in Washington, D.C.


By KATHERINE SKIBA | Chicago Tribune | Published: November 28, 2012

WASHINGTON — “Joy to All” is the theme of the Obamas’ fourth Christmas in the White House, which threw open its festive, fir-draped doors Wednesday to the first guests of the season, U.S. troops and their children.

Fifty-four live Christmas trees lend color and sparkle to the Executive Mansion. The largest of the trees is an 18-foot, 6-inch Fraser fir from North Carolina that is festooned with ornaments crafted by children from U.S. military bases around the world.

Amid the greenery and garlands, another highlight: a gingerbread house, weighing almost 300 pounds, featuring lit chandeliers and a replica of first lady Michelle Obama’s garden.

The inaugural guests included Capt. Luis Avila, 42, and his wife and son. Avila, still hospitalized, lost a leg and suffered a brain injury from a makeshift bomb in Afghanistan during his fifth wartime deployment.

Obama engaged four Chicago artists — David Condon, David Lee Csicsko, Jami Darwin Chiang and Heidi Feinerman — to add creative touches to the decor, along with Chicago event planner Gabrielle Martinez.

They joined about 85 volunteers from 38 states and the District of Columbia. Tracy Jacobson, 54, a retired detective from Irvine, Calif., was among the volunteers. “Amazing,” she called the experience. “One of the most incredible things of my life.”

A replica of Bo, the Obamas’ furry, black-and-white Portuguese water dog, appears outside the gingerbread house, and, as in past years, has a starring role throughout the White House’s Christmas pageantry.

The estimated 90,000 visitors who will stream through in coming weeks will receive a bookmark with check-off boxes to signify they’ve spotted Bo ornaments or “Boflakes” in eight locales, including the Red Room and the Green Room.

His own quarters — the Bo-val Office, so to speak — is not part of the tour.

A replica of the White House rendered in gingerbread, with a miniature version of family dog, Bo, is seen in the State Dining Room, Wednesday, November 28, 2012, in Washington, DC.


comments Join the conversation and share your voice!  

from around the web