Celebrities Join First Family for White House Tree Lighting Ceremony
The first family celebrated the annual White House Christmas tree-lighting ceremony with the help of a little star power.
Neil Patrick Harris hosted the event, welcoming to the stage President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, Sasha and Malia. Shortly before 6 p.m. ET, the president led a countdown from five and pressed the button to light the large Christmas tree, complete with a yellow star on top.
The first lady was joined by Modern Family's Rico Rodriguez for a reading of the classic poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (aka "The Night Before Christmas"). The actor joked that he hoped to join the Obama family in Hawaii for their holiday vacation.
The president noted that the White House has had three trees in just three years.
"A longstanding tree was lost in a storm, then the replacement didn't take hold -- just goes to show nobody's job is safe in Washington,” Obama said. “I feel good about this one. It was planted just days before Hurricane Sandy, and it made it in one piece."
An estimated 17,000 people attended the event, according to the U.S. National Park Service. Other stars performing included James Taylor, Babyface, Jason Mraz and Phillip Phillips.