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United States & World

2021 White House Christmas tree chosen from NC family farm

Estes Christmas Tree 2021.jpg
Jennifer Greene
/
North Carolina Christmas Tree Association
Beau Estes, left, with his father Russell Estes with the soon-to-be 2021 White House Christmas Tree on Oct. 20, 2021.

As President Joe Biden and members of his staff spent Wednesday laying out vaccination plans and wrangling members of Congress in budget talks, a lucky few White House staffers were dispatched to a family farm in Jefferson, North Carolina, for a much easier — though still important — task: picking out the 2021 White House Christmas tree.

The tree, it was decided, would come from Peak Farms, owned by Russell Estes and his son, Beau Estes. The father and son duo previously supplied Fraser firs to the White House in 2008 and 2012, and provided trees to the vice president's residence in 2018. They were again selected this year after winning a contest and vote among Christmas tree farmers, consumers and industry experts.

Reached by phone, Russell Estes said he was thrilled to have been selected for a third time, and looked forward to cutting down the tree and delivering it to the White House next month.

He said that every year the White House looks for a 20-foot tree that's bushy and looks good from all angles — although he said in 2008, the White House decorator chose a tree that was maybe too bushy.

"She selected a tree that was so big and wide, that they struggled to take it through the double doors of the White House," he said. "It actually got stuck in the doorway, and they had to have folks on the inside and the outside, and they just barely got it through."

This year's tree is a little more slender, he said — hopefully a more comfortable fit. Once it arrives at the White House, the tree will be cut down to exactly 18.5 feet so its branches just brush the ceiling of the Blue Room. Then, decorators will plug in the lights from an outlet in the ceiling and deck the tree with ornaments and dressings.

Estes said he will cut the tree down the week before Thanksgiving and load it onto a tractor trailer bound for Washington, D.C. His family will hop in a car and follow the tree to the nation's capital a day or two later, then personally present the Fraser fir to first lady Jill Biden on the steps of the White House.

Estes said he felt honored to represent Christmas tree growers around the county and the estimated 1,300 growers in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association.

He said he hoped the tree would bring good tidings to Washington, D.C., from North Carolina and usher back a sense of normalcy amid the pandemic.

"Hopefully this tree will bring peace to the United States and to the world, and we'll get back on track like things should be," he said.

According to the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association, 13 trees have been sent to the White House from North Carolina since 1971. Past growers who have been selected include farmers in Newland, Laurel Springs, and Grassy Creek, among others.

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