Here’s the story! What an awesome thing to witness – the lighting of the National Christmas Tree! Merry CHRISTMAS!

Thursday night is the official kick off for the holidays in Washington, and around 5:00, the seats around the National Christmas Tree will be filled with thousands of people ready for the show and ready to get into the Christmas spirit.

“It is one of Washington’s oldest and grandest traditions, the lighting of the National Tree,” says Mike Litterst, spokesperson with the National Park Service. It’s a star-studded event hosted by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson and the First Family. Plus performances by Steve Miller, Fifth Harmony, Ne-yo, Patti LaBelle, The Tenors, the USMC band, Chely Wright and Nico & Vinz.

The real star of the show, however, is the Colorado Blue Spruce that will be aglow with 60,000 high-efficiency LED bulbs. “It’s a green Christmas tree in more ways than one,” says Litterst.

The 56 state and territory trees will also be on display as usual, but this year there will be a twist: the trees will be lit by designs created by girls across the country through Google’s Mady With Code project. “Made With Code is Google’s initiative to inspire girls to try computer science, and to see it as a means to pursue their dreams. Today, we are partnering with the National Park Foundation to let girls code the trees. They can actually change the designs, the patterns, the colors, all from the comfort of their home and online at MadeWithCode.com,” says Kate Parker with Google’s Made With Code project. Trees can be coded the entire month of December, you’ll get a slot time to see your code play out.

The Tree Lighting ceremony is a ticket only event, but if you aren’t one of the lucky few to nab one through the lottery, you can still watch all the festivities online through TheNationalTree.org.

If you do go to the event, doors open at 3:00 and you have to be in your seats by 4:30. The ceremony begins at 5:00.

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