WASHINGTON — The first family rang in the holiday season Thursday evening, lighting the National Christmas Tree for the final time.
Joined by first lady Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha Obama, President Barack Obama focused on the need for acceptance, regardless of one’s views or backgrounds. He praised the country for its ability to recover from difficulties, including an economic crisis and wars, and reminded Americans to treat others the way they would like to be treated.
“It’s a message of unity and a message of decency and a message of hope that never goes out of style. And it’s one that we all need very much today,” he said. “After eight years as your president, I still believe that there is so much more that unites us then divides us.”
The annual lighting of the tree is currently in its 94th year and takes place in President’s Park, right across from the White House.
Hosted by actress Eva Longoria, this year’s event featured performances by Kelly Clarkson, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Marc Anthony, Yolanda Adams, Chance the Rapper, The Lumineers and James Taylor. Olympian Simone Manuel also made an appearance, assisting the first lady in the annual reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”