National Christmas Tree near the White House toppled by strong winds ahead of lighting ceremony
The National Christmas Tree, a cut Norway spruce placed at President’s Park near the White House earlier this month, toppled over Tuesday due to strong winds in the D.C. area.
Despite the toppling, the planned 101st lighting ceremony for the tree on Thursday is slated to happen. The tradition began with former President Calvin Coolidge in 1923.
“As the saying goes, ‘the show must go on’ and the NPS and our event partners are looking at all possibilities to ensure a successful event this year,” a National Park Service spokesperson told CBS News.
The national tree fell over at around 1 p.m., an NPS spokesperson told WTOP-FM, with the tree being returned to an upright position by around 6 p.m. after a snapped cable was replaced.
Wind speeds at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on the other side of the Potomac River were 17 mph northwest with gusts up to 32 mph at around 12:52 p.m. An hour later, the wind reached its apogee, with westward winds blowing at 25 mph and gusts of up to 40 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
While NPS has normally used a planted tree for the task since 1973, the cut spruce was used this year due to time constraints after the previous tree caught a fungal disease affecting its needles, park officials said in their announcement of the new tree on Nov. 14.