New National Christmas Tree to be illuminated

By the Associated Press | December 1, 2011 | 3:10 AM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The new National Christmas Tree will soon be illuminated for the first time.

President Barack Obama and his family will officially light the tree in a ceremony starting at 5 p.m. Thursday.

The new National Christmas Tree was planted on the Ellipse south of the White House in March. It's a 26-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce from a New Jersey tree nursery. The previous tree had stood on the Ellipse since 1978. It was toppled in February by strong winds.

Carson Daly will host the lighting ceremony, which will include performances from the Black Eyed Peas, Kermit the Frog, Big Time Rush, Ellie Goulding and others.

This will be the 89th year for the holiday tree lighting. The tradition began with President Calvin Coolidge in 1923.