BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Many can remember growing up and anticipating the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. Whether witnessing it on TV or having a first-hand experience in Washington D.C., the lighting of the National Christmas Tree is an iconic celebration in American history.
Each year, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation commissions each state to design 12 unique ornaments. These ornaments are displayed on designated trees throughout President’s Park (White House).
This year, the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association (BRMAA) was selected to create the 12 one-of-a-kind ornaments to represent the state of Georgia.
BRMAA staff worked with a number of mediums to handcraft these decorations showcasing a common theme of barn quilts. They used both traditional and nontraditional patterns to showcase what defines Georgia, specifically the north Georgia area.
Barn quilts have been a long standing tradition in our area and a key element to Appalachian culture. Over the years, barn quilts have served as unique identifiers to family farms and have even helped lead the way to freedom as symbols of the Underground Railroad.
This year’s display of trees will include 56 trees representing each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia. The theme of this year’s event is a Pathway to Peace.
BRMAA Executive Director Nichole Potzauf explained of the ornaments, “With such a divisive time in our country, as all the states unite to present their ornaments on the Pathway to Peace, our hope is that this project will serve as a pathway toward peace and hope for unity during the holidays for our country.”
The tradition of the Lighting of the National Tree began in 1923, when then President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree on the Ellipse in front of 3,000 spectators. Since that time, each president has continued the tradition making this the 95th year of this display.
The America Celebrates exhibit will be displayed in Washington D.C. Dec. 1, 2017, through Jan. 1, 2018.
Potzauf stated, “It is an incredible honor for the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association to be selected to represent Georgia. I would like to say a special thank you to the Georgia Council for the Arts for selecting our organization to highlight Georgia’s cultural and historical beauty through these ornaments.”
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