Obamas light national Christmas tree in rain

 

President Obama battled the wind and the rain to light the national Christmas tree on Friday.

“Is everybody a little wet but still having fun?” Obama, flanked by his wife and two daughters, called out to the audience.

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The president, hoping to make a quick exit, said it was better to count down from five rather than 10 because of the poor weather.  

“Since it is a little wet, we shouldn’t start at 10,” he joked. 

The lighting took place on the The Ellipse, near the White House.

A total of 3,000 seated tickets and 14,000 standing tickets were given away for the event in a lottery in October. Many of the guests wore ponchos to protect against the rain and wind. 

The National Park Foundation reminded visitors ahead of the event that the tree lighting would take place outdoors regardless of the weather. 

“Please be advised that this is an outdoor rain or shine event and attendees should monitor local forecasts for the Washington, D.C. area and dress for the weather conditions,” it said on its website. 

"Glee" actress Jane Lynch introduced the first family. Other performers included Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin and the band Train. 

Franklin's performance immediately followed the lighting. A number of White House reporters close to the stage commented that it appeared she was lip syncing. 
 
"I love miss Aretha Franklin, but consensus among the White House pool is that she's lip syncing right now,” NPR correspondent Ari Shapiro tweeted. A number of others seconded the statement. 
 
Beyoncé took a fair amount of grief earlier this year at Obama's inauguration after it was revealed she lip synced the National Anthem. 

The national Christmas tree stands on The Ellipse year-round and is decorated each year for the holidays.

Last year Obama joked about the short shelf life of the last few trees. A 2011 storm took down the tree that had stood for decades and its immediate replacement had died within a year before being replaced. A 28-foot Colorado blue spruce from Virginia was planted as the new National Christmas Tree last October.