Christmas decorations at the White House give nod to Covid first responders
First responders and frontline workers being challenged by the deadly coronavirus pandemic have been highlighted in White House Christmas decorations, which also give a special nod to Melania Trump’s redesigned Rose Garden.
It is the final Christmas in the White House for the Trump family, although the president continues to insist — despite evidence to the contrary — that he won the November 3 election. President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office on January 20.
The first lady said “America the Beautiful” is her theme for the decor, inspired by Americans’ shared appreciation “for our traditions, values and history”.
Workers on the front lines of a pandemic that has killed more than 266,000 people in the US and infected over 13 million others are recognised in the Red Room with a Christmas tree dotted with handmade ornaments, as well as other decorations around the parlour.
A gingerbread White House made of more than 400lb of dough, gum paste, chocolate and royal icing is on display in the State Dining Room, and for the first time includes the Rose Garden, which the first lady recently renovated, and the First Ladies’ Garden.
Ornaments on the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room — a Fraser fir that stands more than 18ft tall — were designed by students who were asked by the National Park Service to depict what makes their states beautiful.
A buck and a crane are featured in three-dimensional art hanging in windows of the Green Room, where American wildlife is the highlight.
Classical urns lining an East Wing walkway hold groupings of foliage from different regions of the country.
Trees and other decorations in the East Room feature planes, trains and automobiles — including models of Air Force One — in a nod to triumphs in innovations and technology.
Wrapped gifts beneath decorated trees lining the Cross Hall bear tags that say “peace,” “love,” “faith” and “joy”.
Monday’s unveiling of the Christmas decorations came weeks after Mrs Trump was heard on an audio recording using profanity as she complained about the pressure of having to decorate for the holiday in the past.
The recording of the July 2018 conversation was made and released to CNN by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who was fired from the White House earlier that year.
She published a tell-all book about her friendship and break-up with Mrs Trump, whom Ms Wolkoff blames for not defending her after questions arose about spending for Mr Trump’s 2017 inauguration, which Ms Wolkoff helped produce.
This year 125 volunteers from around the country used 62 trees, 106 wreaths, more than 1,200ft of garland, more than 3,200 strands of lights and 17,000 bows to decorate the 132-room White House over the course of Thanksgiving weekend.
The library is decorated to recognise the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.
Stockings for the president, first lady and their 14-year-old son Barron hang from a fireplace in the room where presidential china patterns are displayed.
After previewing the decorations for the media, the White House planned the first of many holiday receptions which are expected to be smaller given coronavirus concerns.
A few miles north of the White House, the wrapping also came off the Christmas decorations at vice president Mike Pence’s official residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory.