President Barack Obama will get an assist from actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson during the 2014 National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony Thursday night outside the White House. The kickoff to the start of the holiday season in Washington will also feature seven performers, including Wilson and singer Patti LaBelle.
The White House tradition began in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge turned the lights on a 48-foot fir with 2,500 bulbs, according to the official National Christmas Tree Lighting website. The White House Christmas tree is now illuminated with LED bulbs, which made their debut in 2007. General Electric Co. provides the lights and decorations for the tree.
Hanks and Wilson, who are married, will host the 2014 National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, while seven musical acts will provide entertainment for the event. Others acts include Fifth Harmony, Ne-Yo, Steve Miller, Nico & Vinz, the Tenors and Chely Wright.
The 92nd annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony gets underway Thursday at 5 p.m. EST. The White House is providing live stream video of the event, which you can view below:
Visitors to the White House from now until Dec. 23 can view musical performances near the Christmas tree. Check out the schedule of performers here. The tree will be lit through Jan. 1, according to the National Park Foundation.
Aside from the main tree, there will be 56 other Christmas trees at the White House that children can program from their computers to create a light show that visitors at the display can see. The project, through Google’s Made with Code program, is targeted at girls to encourage them to enter the male-dominated field of computer science.