(WASHINGTON) — It took 54 live Christmas trees, 175 pounds of gingerbread, and 85 volunteers from across the country to pull it off, but the holidays have finally arrived at the White House.
First lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families to the White House Wednesday for the big reveal and to show off this year’s theme of “Joy to All.”
“It celebrates the many joys of the holiday seasons: the joy of giving and service to others; the joy of sharing our blessings with one another; and, of course, the joy of welcoming our friends and families as guests into our homes over these next several weeks,” she told the crowd gathered in the East Room.
The first lady praised the service and sacrifice of the families gathered at the White House Wednesday, which included Gold Star and Blue Star parents, spouses and children. “This is one big, huge thank you,” she said. “I have said this many times before and I will say it again, because I can’t say it enough — our military families truly represent the very best that this country has to offer. And I’ve seen it up close. You all do so much for this country, and you do it with such amazing poise and grace.”
Several of the decorations honor the military, including red, white and blue wreaths and special ornaments decorated by families of fallen soldiers. The decor also includes a nod to holidays past, with four trees trimmed with ornaments paying tribute to the legacies of former first ladies. “They just give you a sense of what Christmas felt like in other administrations with other families and first ladies,” Mrs. Obama said.
More than 90,000 visitors will tour the decorations at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this holiday season, which now boasts a huge 18-foot-6-inch Fraser fir in the Blue Room and a giant topiary of the Obama family dog Bo made out of 20,000 black and white pom-poms.
Other highlights include the annual White House gingerbread house, which weighs in at an impressive 300 pounds. “It even includes chandeliers that light up,” the first lady bragged. “It glows. Like Rudolph’s nose, right.”
Fun facts about this year’s decorations:
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire