President Bush formally ushered in the Christmas holiday season in Washington with a decades old ceremony, the lighting of the national Christmas tree.
On a snowy December evening with Washington wrapped in a new blanket of snow, the national Christmas tree suddenly filled the night with light.
"Please join us in the countdown five, four, three, two one," said Mr. Bush
With two Washington area children as helpers, President and Mrs. Bush flipped the switch that lit the tree. Thousands stood in the cold to watch and to listen as the president talked about the meaning of Christmas. "For over two millennia, Christmas has carried the message that God is with us and because he is with us, we can always live in hope," he said.
The lighting of the national Christmas tree has been a Washington tradition for almost 80 years. The park area around the tree is open to the public year-round, with special holiday performances staged throughout the Christmas season.