GREENEVILLE Tenn. ? Andrew Johnson National Historic Site's ornament is prominently displayed on this year's official White House Christmas Tree. The tree is the centerpiece of elaborate decorations celebrating the theme of "Holiday in the National Parks."
"It is an amazing honor for the National Park Service to be selected as the theme for the White House holiday decorations by the President and Mrs. Bush," said National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar. "Mrs. Bush is the best champion for our national parks, and the beautiful decorations in each state room showcase the natural and historical treasures found in parks throughout the country."
The tree, located in the Blue Room, is adorned with handmade ornaments representing the country's 391 National Park Service sites. "Each ornament on the magnificent 18-foot Fraser fir was designed by an artist selected by the park," said Bomar. "The ornaments tell the stories of our parks, just as our parks tell the stories of our nation."
Local artist Martha Scull and Patty Lane designed the ornament to represent Greeneville, Tenn. commemorating the bicentennial of Andrew Johnson's birthday.
Lane described the ornament as "mixed media that features Andrew Johnson on one side and Johnson's monument atop Monument Hill on the other. It was very important to us to also include the national cemetery as a remembrance of our fallen veterans."
The ornament was selected by the White House as the Tennessee ornament representative on their webpage. The White House ornaments may be viewed at http://www.whitehouse.gov/holiday/2007/index.html. Both Skull and Lane were invited to a White House reception to receive recognition for their work, but were unable to attend.
The holiday displays incorporate the wide variety of natural, cultural, and recreational features preserved by the National Park Service. Models of icons such as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Statue of Liberty share space with paintings of scenic vistas from Grand Canyon, Zion, and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Holiday garlands intertwined with park objects including seashells, pine cones, and gold aspen leaves add to each room's festive feel.
A highlight of the decorations is a scaled-down, but architecturally accurate, gingerbread reproduction of the south view of the White House, a unit of the National Park Service. The edible masterpiece includes Bush family pets Barney, Miss Beazley, and Willie frolicking on the lawn with moose, elk, raccoons, and other animals found in national parks.
"National Parks commemorate the people, places, and events that define the American experience," said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. "I am so appreciative of President Bush's efforts to recognize the important role of national parks in American society. Our country will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016 and the President has been instrumental in establishing the National Park Centennial Initiative to prepare the parks for the next century."