PBS to Broadcast National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

WASHINGTON: PBS member stations across the country will be broadcasting the lighting of the National Christmas tree for the first time this year, the National Park Service said today. WETA-TV, the Washington, D.C. PBS flagship affiliate, will produce the 60-minute lighting ceremony special, set to start airing Dec. 4 through the holiday season. The ceremony will also be streamed live Thursday, Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. Eastern at www.thenationaltree.org.

The tradition of raising a Christmas tree in the White House Ellipse started in 1923 with a 48-foot fir decorated with 2,500 red, white and green lights. Last year, the 46-year-old blue spruce on the Ellipse that now serves as the Christmas tree was covered with thousands of light-emitting diodes (shown at right).

Around 37,000 people applied in the first lottery for free tickets to attend the ceremony.