In December 1923, America stood by as the National Christmas Tree in Washington D.C. was lit for the first time. Ninety years and several generations later, the event tonight promises to capture the magic of the first lighting with one major difference: the tree’s light-emitting diode (LED) lighting shines as bright as ever but consumes 80 percent less energy (4,000 watts vs. about 20,000 watts) compared with incandescent technology. This year, GE Lighting marks its 50 th year of lighting the National Tree.
A National Christmas Tree of the past sparkles as part of the illumination ceremony. This year's national tree will shine brightly with energy-saving LEDs. Photography by Paul Morigi.
“Our design this year pays tribute to the first National Christmas Tree while underscoring the transformational power of LEDs,” says John Strainic, general manager of consumer lighting for GE Lighting. “We encourage consumers who love the robustness, long life and energy cost savings of LED holiday lights to explore what LEDs can do in other rooms and applications throughout the year.” When this year’s National Christmas Tree is illuminated, it will glimmer with thousands of LED lights, including 450 strands of LED lights and 120 star-shaped LED ornaments adorned with a gold metallic finish, a feature that will make the tree sparkle not just at night, but all day long. To commemorate the first tree lighting nine decades ago, an heirloom topper design will be outfitted for greater efficiency, longer life and brighter light output using a commercial-grade GE Tetra ®MAX LED system that’s typically used in commercial signage. In addition to the National Christmas Tree, 57 smaller trees surrounding it will be illuminated with GE LED lights—one for every state and U.S. territory. Each will sparkle with red, green and white lights in tribute to the original National Tree.