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First lady welcomes White House Christmas tree

Friday - 11/29/2013, 9:21pm  ET

First lady Michelle Obama receives the official White House Christmas Tree outside the North Portico of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. The tree was grown by Christopher Botek, a second-generation Christmas tree farmer from Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Pa. Four other trees, all from Wyckoff's Christmas Tree Farm in Belvidere, N.J., will be placed throughout the White House. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

MATTHEW PENNINGTON
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Christmas has come to the White House.

Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha and the family's two dogs on Friday accepted an 18½-foot Douglas fir as the official White House Christmas tree.

The tree was grown by Christopher Botek, a second-generation Christmas tree farmer from Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Pa.

The tree was hauled up the driveway by horse-drawn wagon and taken to the Blue Room, where it will stand as the main attraction of the White House Christmas decorations.

Mrs. Obama, holding the leash for dog Sunny, and her daughters walked around the wagon to inspect the fir.

"It looks good. It looks beautiful," she said, turning to ask Malia: "What do you think?"

"Love it. We'll keep it," replied Malia, who held the leash for Bo, the family's other dog.

"We will keep it," Mrs. Obama said.

Four other trees, all from Wyckoff's Christmas Tree Farm in Belvidere, N.J., will be placed throughout the White House.

The Wyckoff farm won this year's National Christmas Tree Contest, sponsored by the National Christmas Tree Association. When that farm couldn't provide a tree to the exacting standards for the Blue Room -- its tree must be exactly 18½ feet high -- a tree was found at the Botek farm. The White House says that members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented the official White House tree for display in the Blue Room since 1966.

An army of volunteer decorators and White House staffers will participate in a weekend marathon of tree trimming, wreath hanging and other decorating to transform the building in time for a preview of the holiday decorations that's set for next week.

As in past years, many of the decorations will honor military families, who are getting a first look at the decorations on Wednesday.

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