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President Kennedy Lights Christmas Tree at White House

Dec. 17, 1962 - President Kennedy lighted the nation’s Christmas tree today and said the nation had emerged from a year of peril into a season when hopes were a little brighter. At the annual observance on the ellipse south of the White House lawn, the President voiced his hope for a “blessed and happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.” In his Christmas message, he said: “This has been a year of peril when peace was threatened but a year when that threat has been faced.” He said hopes for peace seemed a little brighter for 1963 but that “we still need to ask that God’s will be done.” At the end of his talk, President Kennedy threw the switch that turned on 5,000 lights on a 72-foot blue spruce tree from Colorado. The tree was hung with 4,000 ornaments. The custom has been observed by the White House since President Calvin Coolidge initiated it in 1923.


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