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"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Marine Band to Perform at National Christmas Tree Lighting

By Gunnery Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali | United States Marine Band | December 5, 2019

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This week the Marine Band will provide the musical soundtrack for the National Christmas Tree lighting in Washington, D.C. As stated in a National Park Foundation release, “A lovely melding of music, national parks, outdoor performance, and holiday cheer, the 97th National Christmas Tree Lighting will feature not only the official lighting of the new National Christmas Tree, but also timeless holiday tunes that people of all ages will enjoy. Presented by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, this beloved American tradition takes place on the Ellipse in President’s Park (White House) on Dec. 5.”

Country music artist Jessie James Decker will host the event, and the band will provide accompaniment for special guests Chevel Shepherd, Colton Dixon, Spensha Baker, the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, and the West Tennessee Youth Chorus. Musical selections for the evening will include Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” “Joy to the World,” “O Christmas Tree,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and many more holiday favorites.

In 1923, the Marine Band played at a lighting ceremony held by President Calvin Coolidge after he received a 48-foot Balsam fir as a gift from the president of Middlebury College in Coolidge’s home state of Vermont. The band attempted to provide music for the ceremony in 1975, but in less than five minutes all the horns were frozen due to the cold. According to the band’s library log: “Not one note was played! 20-30mph winds, chill factor made it well below zero!”

Read more about the history of the Lighting, including the debate over whether the tradition actually began in 1923

Although free tickets are no longer available to attend the ceremony live, on Monday, Dec. 9, the event will be aired at 8 p.m. ET on REELZ and 9 p.m. ET on Ovation. President’s Park is open for visitors to visit the decorated National Christmas Tree from Dec. 9 through Jan. 1, 2020. To learn more, visit www.thenationaltree.org


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