About the White House Christmas Tree
Since 1966, members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented the official White House Christmas Tree for display in the Blue Room. Each year, NCTA hosts a national tree contest, at which growers, industry experts and consumers vote to select the Real Christmas Tree grower who will provide the official White House Christmas Tree. To qualify for the national contest, growers must first win their state or regional competitions, so being named National Grand Champion is quite an achievement.
Learn more about past National Grand Champions and their White House experiences below.
The 2014 Blue Room Christmas Tree will be presented on November 28.
Where It All Began
The Botek family has been selling Real Christmas Trees since the mid-1930s when they owned a small family-run grocery store. In 1964, Francis and Margaret Botek bought and converted about 25 acres of dairy farmland into what is Crystal Spring Tree Farm today. The farm—now run by the Botek’s son, Chris—is located at the foothills of the Pocono Mountains, has grown to more than 200 acres and produces approximately 15 species of wholesale, landscape and choose-and-cut trees.
The Botek family has received a number of accolades in recent years, having displayed their Real Christmas Trees at New York City’s Rockefeller Center, the state capitol in Harrisburg, PA as well as the White House. In 2006, they presented First Lady Laura Bush an 18 ½-foot-tall Douglas fir tree after winning Grand Champion at the National Christmas Tree Contest in Portland, OR. In 2010, they received this status again at the national contest in Winston-Salem, NC and another trip to Washington, D.C., where they presented a 19 ½-foot-tall Douglas fir tree to First Lady Michelle Obama.
“The 2010 win made us only the fifth farm in the nation to repeat as Grand Champion,” said Chris Botek.
This year the Botek family looks forward to celebrating their farm’s 50th Anniversary in conjunction with being NCTA Grand Champion a third time.
“I don't think a person could reach a higher pinnacle in tree farming than what happened with us,” said Francis Botek.
2014 Blue Room Tree Selected
On Wednesday, September 24, 2014 White House staff traveled to Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, PA to select the Christmas decoration centerpiece for the Blue Room of the White House. It didn’t take them long to find just what they were looking for—a distinctive 20-foot-tall Concolor fir tree.
With print and broadcast media following their every move, the tree was handpicked by Angela Reid, White House Usher, along with White House Superintendent of Grounds Dale Haney and Chief Horticulturist Jim Adams with the National Park Service. Haney said this year's selection was a rare find and he is thrilled to bring it to Washington, D.C.
"It just says Christmas all over it,” said Haney. “It's really unusual to find this species of tree this tall so to be able to bring it into the White House will be spectacular."
The 2014 tree will be only the third time since 1966 that a Concolor fir is displayed in the Blue Room.
White House Bound
The White House’s Blue Room tree will be harvested at Thanksgiving and will be transported to Washington, D.C.
On Friday, November 28, 2014 the chosen tree will be carried by horse-drawn carriage to the North Portico of the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama and, more than likely, daughters Sasha and Malia as well as “Bo”, the family dog, will receive the tree from Chris Botek and his family, following a brief tour, reception and photo session inside the White House.
“There is no greater achievement in our business than the opportunities we’ve been blessed with,” said Chris. “We’ve always taken great pride in the quality of our trees and we feel truly honored.”
Representatives of the NCTA will also plan to attend this special occasion.
“A fresh, farm-grown Christmas tree is a great tradition in our country, and we Christmas Tree farmers love this 38-year tradition,” said Blake Rafeld, NCTA president and a Christmas Tree grower from Ashland, OH. “You have to be really good at your craft to win this contest and the Botek’s have proven their mettle three times now.”
Learn more about past National Grand Champions and their White House experiences:
Want to learn more about White House Christmas traditions? We're happy to recommend Christmas at the White House
, which includes a section about the Official Blue Room Christmas Tree from NCTA Grand Champions. For more information or to order a copy, visit http://www.fifeanddrumpress.com