Insufficient Christmas trees?
COVID-19-induced supply chain issues have delayed some shipments of artificial Christmas trees. What does the holiday season 2021 look like for suppliers of fresh-cut conifers? This is the N&O special report.
The 2021 White House Christmas tree, the one in the main reception hall of the People’s House, is another Fraser fir grown in North Carolina.
North Carolina has now sent 14 freshly cut trees to the White House since the tradition began in the 1960s, surpassing all other states.
The selection of the official White House tree has nothing to do with politics. Producers first enter a competition in their home state or region, and then enter the National Tree and Wreath competition sponsored by the National Christmas Tree Association.
This year’s competition was held in West Jefferson, North Carolina, in August.
The contests are held every two years, with the winners of the current year and the following year being selected at each gathering.
Growers bring trees to the competition for judging by industry and consumer representatives. Entries must be 6 to 8 feet tall, cannot be artificially colored or flocked, or have branches or limbs that are wired, tied or inserted in any way.
Trees are judged on attributes such as color, shape, fullness and texture of needles.
Once a grower is named Grand National Champion, White House staff travel to a field chosen by the farmer to pick the exact tree. This year’s tree, grown by Peak Farms of Laurel Springs, is a Fraser Fir that stood about 20 feet tall in the field, ensuring that when the trunk is cut the tree will grow to the required 18.5 feet.
Once cut, the tree is trucked to Washington, DC and then delivered to the White House by horse-drawn carriage. There he is installed in the Blue Room, where he can be seen by thousands of vacationers.
A helping hand for the tree producer
Producer Rusty Estes and his family traveled to Washington the weekend before Thanksgiving to deliver the tree, and he said they planned to return there to see it decorated.
To illuminate the tree, workers remove the chandelier from the blue room and use the light to run an electrical cord through the trunk. Each year the tree is decorated in a different theme. The tree is decorated with over 3,500 ornaments and thousands of LED lights.
The White House and its grounds are a national park, and the White House Christmas tree is a gift from the producer to the nation. However, the National Park Service typically purchases additional trees from the same grower to decorate other areas of the White House.
Selecting a tree for the White House can significantly boost a grower’s business, said Joe Freeman, owner of Mistletoe Meadows, another Laurel Springs Christmas tree company.
Freeman was chosen Grand Champion in 2007 and later said, “Everyone wanted a tree from the place that sent one to the White House.
On the way to Washington
Before going to the White House, the 2021 National Christmas Tree was loaded into a semi-trailer belonging to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, which had wrapped the trailer in a giant billboard for North Carolina Christmas trees.
A driver brought the truck to a farewell event at the Ashe County Courthouse in Jefferson, escorted by police and led by Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus in a sleigh pulled by six ponies.
A loudspeaker on the steps of the courthouse yelled, “This is the most wonderful time of the year. ”
The tree was sent on its way with the blessing of a local pastor.