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Tree arrives at White House

By Staff | Dec 4, 2009

Eric and Gloria Sunback, right, prepare to have tea in the White House Nov. 27 with First Lady Michelle Obama and the Obama daughters Sasha and Malia. Photo by Michael Theis/Chronicle

WASHINGTON – An 18-and-a-half-foot Douglas fir tree, grown outside of Shepherdstown by local arborists Eric and Gloria Sundback, now sits in the White House Blue Room as the official White House Christmas tree.

Arriving in true holiday style on a horse drawn carriage and accompanied by a White House Marine brass quartet playing “O’Tannenbaum,” the official White House Christmas Tree pulled up to the north entrance of the White House last Friday to be reviewed by First Lady Michelle Obama and the first daughters Sasha and Malia Obama. The Sundbacks were on hand to present the tree to the First Lady who inquired about its history and lineage.

Eric Sundback, pointing out the size of the tree, speculated that it may be large enough for Sasha and Malia to climb about in.

A reporter called out to the first lady, asking if this was the largest tree the family ever had.

Laughing, Obama said “Definitely, yes.”

After reviewing the tree for a few minutes in front of the press, Michelle Obama invited the Sundbacks in for tea and a photograph with the first family.

Afterwards, the Sundbacks returned to the press line to answer questions.

“Talk about a thrill!” said Gloria Sundback. “To go out to the Rocky Mountains, hand pick a seed, plant it and care for it, and then see it go to the White House! It never gets old!”

This is the fourth time a Sundback tree has graced the presidential masions, once during Jimmy Carter’s term, and twice during the Reagan years.

Over 50 photographers, reporters and videographers were on hand to document the event, every move of the Sundbacks and the Obamas was accompanied by the clicking of camera shutters and reporters jostling for position along the rope line.