White House Christmas Tree: 2005
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White House Selects Blue Room Christmas Tree

ST. LOUIS - (October 20, 2005) -- A beautiful 18 1/2 foot tall Fraser fir tree from North Carolina will be the Official White House Christmas Tree this season.

The Blue Room Christmas Tree will be officially presented to First Lady Laura Bush by Earl, Betsy and Buddy Deal of Smokey Holler Tree Farm in Laurel Springs, N.C. The Deals earned this honor by winning the National Christmas Tree Association's (NCTA) national Christmas Tree contest and becoming Grand Champions.

The Blue Room Christmas Tree was hand picked by White House Chief Usher Gary Walters and Grounds Foreman Mike Lawn on October 20. The tree will be cut in late November and sent to Washington, D.C. The White House staff also selected two beautiful Real Christmas Trees for the White House Oval Office and the Bush family's private residence.

"The last time a Christmas Tree from North Carolina was displayed in the White House was in 1997," Gary Walters said. "This beautiful Fraser fir from the Deal family is the perfect tree to continue this long-standing White House tradition."

An active member of both NCTA and the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association for more than 30 years, Earl credits both associations with providing him with many learning opportunities that have contributed to his success.

"We had tagged this one hoping it would be the one picked," Earl Deal said, referring to the Fraser fir selected as the 2005 Blue Room Tree. "This is a dream come true. I think every Christmas Tree grower hopes that they will someday provide a tree to the White House, but it's still hard to believe that it will ever happen to you.

Achieving this honor was no easy feat for the Deals. In order to be eligible to enter the national contest, they first had to compete in their state association competition. The Deals' Fraser fir then competed against 22 other entries at the national competition in Lake Harmony, Penn., in order to earn the opportunity to present the Blue Room Tree for display in the White House. But the family agrees that it was worth all the time and effort involved. "There is no higher honor in this business," Earl said.

Earl first began planting Christmas Trees as a hobby in 1972. At the time, he was employed with the Department of Wood and Paper Science at North Carolina State University, while Betsy taught with the Wake County School System. For a number of years, the Deal family commuted from their home in Raleigh to the farm in Laurel Springs on weekends and vacations to care for the trees. Upon the couple's retirement, they became permanent residents of Laurel Springs and full-time Christmas Tree growers.

The Christmas Trees grown at Smokey Holler Tree Farm are sold wholesale to retailers along the East Coast, from Miami to Long Island, and across the Midwest. In addition, the family sells wreaths, garlands and roping; operates retail lots int he Raleigh-Durham area; and runs a Choose & Cut Chrismtas Tree farm on part of their property. The couple's son, Buddy, helps manage the farm operations, while their daughter, Meg, serves as the certified public accountant for the business and helps out during harvest time.

The presentation of the Blue Room Christmas Tree to the White House is scheduled to take place on Monday, Nov. 28, 2005. The tree will be set up later that day, where it will be decorated by the White House Floral Department staff and volunteers.

"This whole experience has been extremely humbling for our family," Earl said. "We feel that we are not only representing our farm but also the entire Christmas Tree industry, and we are so grateful for this opportunity."

Members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented the official White House Christmas Tree for display in the Blue Room since 1966. For Real Christmas Tree selection and care tips, or to find a Christmas Tree farm or lot in your area, visit www.realchristmastrees.org.

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