WASHINGTON — First lady Laura Bush kicked off the holiday season Sunday by standing out in the rain to receive this year's White House Christmas tree.
A horse-drawn wagon pulled the 20-foot Fraser fir, which will decorate the Blue Room, up to the White House.
"It'll be the great big tree that this year will be decorated with ornaments from all around the United States, decorated by artists from all around the United States," the first lady said of the tree that will be the centerpiece in the White House holiday decor.
Jessie Davis and Russell Estes, owners of River Ridge Tree Farms in Crumpler, N.C., where the tree was grown, joined the first lady, along with their families.
River Ridge also will provide about 25 smaller trees for the White House, including the ones for the offices of the president and vice president, according to the North Carolina Farm Bureau.
Bush said this year's holiday decorating theme would be announced this week.
"I will have to say — just a sneak preview — that this is the perfect theme for this year," she said.
The National Christmas Tree Association has presented the official White House tree since 1966.
Members of the association compete in state and regional competitions to become eligible to take a tree to the national contest. River Ridge was named grand champion in the National Christmas Tree Contest in August.