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President Obama, family to light National Christmas Tree

Obama Family portrait

Obama Family portrait

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and his family will flip the switch for the 90th annual lighting of the National Christmas Tree.

This year’s host is “How I Met Your Mother” actor Neil Patrick Harris. Scheduled performers include singers Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Ledisi, Jason Mraz and James Taylor and the band The Fray. ABC’s “Modern Family” actor Rico Rodriguez will also appear for the ceremony that begins at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

President Calvin Coolidge started the tradition by lighting a live, 48-foot fir decorated with 2,500 electric bulbs in 1923.

This year’s giant blue spruce is new, transplanted in October on the Ellipse, south of the White House.

The previous tree died after just a year from transplant shock. Before that, a tree that stood for more than 30 years was destroyed by winds in February 2011.

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