(WASHINGTON) — First lady Jill Biden kicked off the holiday season in the nation’s capital on Monday by accepting delivery of the official White House Christmas tree — with all the sleigh bells and whistles one might expect.
This year’s tree — an 18.5-foot Fraser fir — hails from Jefferson, North Carolina. The White House welcome event on Monday afternoon marked 56 years of the tradition.
The tree arrived at the White House Portico on an evergreen-colored carriage decked out in holiday greenery and pulled down the driveway by two Clydesdale horses — Ben and Winston — who were adorned with silver sleigh bells and with paper Christmas trees in their braids. A four-piece band played Christmas classics, including “O, Christmas Tree” and “O, Come All Ye Faithful,” as the tree was delivered.
Wearing a red coat and a white dress, the first lady accepted the Christmas tree in apparent delight following a quick quality inspection.
“It’s beautiful — it’s magnificent, actually,” she told reporters when asked what she thought of the tree.
This tree will be on display in the Blue Room, where the chandelier will be temporarily removed to accommodate the full height of the tree, according to the White House.
Following the first lady’s acceptance, the Christmas tree will be decorated for the holiday season.
In addition to the Estes family, which provided the tree after winning the National Christmas Tree Contest for their third year, the first lady also invited the Harrell Family to mark the occasion, to represent and honor the families of active National Guard members who are spending the holidays apart this year.
A National Guard mom herself, Biden intended to honor the role of the National Guard this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the White House said.
Biden’s family was also on hand for the acceptance including son Hunter and his son, Beau Jr., whom the first lady handed a branch that she plucked from the tree.
The first lady has not yet announced the theme of this year’s decorations at the White House, expected to be unveiled in the coming days.
She told reporters her message for service members this holiday season is to “be safe and have a happy, healthy holiday.”
ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.