Christmas arrives at the White House

While most of America is enjoying post-Turkey Day downtime on Friday, First Lady Michelle Obama will be presented with a serious decorating project: the official White House Christmas Tree.

The 18.5 ft. Douglas-fir  will depart Shepherdstown, West Virginia on Friday morning and travel more than 80 miles, mostly down Interstate 270, before arriving at the gates of the White House, where it will be transferred to a traditional horse-drawn carriage for an historic arrival at the North Portico of the White House.

The tree was handpicked more than a month ago by White House Chief Usher Stephen Rochon and Superintendent of Grounds Dale Haney.

Growers Eric and Gloria Sundback of Shepherdstown will present Obama with the tree, which they planted in 1996 on their award-winning Christmas tree farm; this is the fourth time the Sundbacks have presented a Christmas tree to the White House.

The massive fir tree will be set up in the Blue Room on Friday, and members of the White House floral staff, along with volunteers, will decorate it. The Blue Room has been the traditional site for the tree for more than 50 years (above, President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the Blue Room with their Christmas tree).

The Obamas plan to stay in Washington during the Thanksgiving weekend.