It's on: the new National Christmas Tree lights up

December 1, 2011 - 6:35 PM
Obama National Christmas Tree

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha, obscured, and mother-in-law Marian Robinson, far left, arrive for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the Ellipse across from the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec., 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The new National Christmas Tree is getting its holiday on.

President Barack Obama and his family lit the tree in a ceremony just after dark Thursday. It's the 89th year for the holiday tree lighting, a tradition that began with President Calvin Coolidge in 1923.

The new National Christmas Tree was planted in March on the Ellipse south of the White House. It's a 26-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce from a New Jersey tree nursery. The previous tree stood on the Ellipse since 1978. It was toppled in February by strong winds.

TV's Carson Daly hosted the lighting ceremony, which included performances from Big Time Rush and Ellie Goulding and appearances by Kermit the Frog and Santa Claus.