Christmas traditions continue at the White House while transition stalls
(CNN) -- There is not much in the way of activity at the White House, as Thursday marked the 12th day out of 16 since the election with nothing on President Donald Trump's official schedule. Yet the holidays are coming, whether there is a seamless transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden's administration or not.
Melania Trump's office on Thursday announced the first lady will welcome the Official White House Christmas Tree to the White House on Monday. As has been the tradition since 1966, the first lady plans to greet the tree as it arrives by horse-drawn carriage to the North Portico of the White House, ultimately to be erected in the Blue Room on the State Floor.
This year's tree is an 18.5-foot Fraser Fir, selected and cut from Dan and Bryan's Tree Farm in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Melania Trump's office initially incorrectly named a tree farm in Oregon as the provider of the tree in a press release. A White House communications official on Friday corrected the farm and state.
According to a statement from the National Christmas Tree Association, which has presented the official White House tree on behalf of growers for more than five decades, White House Superintendent of Grounds Dale Haney recently visited Dan and Bryan's Tree Farm and selected the official tree. Haney also chose smaller trees from the farm for additional White House holiday decorations.
Traditionally, dozens of volunteers from across the country spend several days at the White House after Thanksgiving, decking the halls and putting finishing touches on the extensive holiday decorating that must take place across several public spaces and rooms.
Melania Trump, as she has done the last three years, started planning her "design theme" in late summer for the holidays. This year, however, the number of volunteers selected to adorn the White House was dramatically scaled back due to Covid-19 guidelines, as will be the tour groups who come to see it.
When volunteers do arrive to begin the work of installing ornaments, wall décor, lights and garlands, they will wear masks and remain socially distant, per White House rules outlined in the volunteer application form. Touring guests will also be required to wear face coverings and be socially distant.
On Wednesday, CNN reported another holiday tradition will go on, despite the turmoil of a White House in limbo. Next Tuesday, Trump will presumably be seen in public again, for an audience with two turkeys hoping to receive a presidential pardon as part of the annual White House Thanksgiving ritual.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect the White House correction of the farm name and location.
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