The National Christmas tree is seen illuminated next to the White House during the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the grounds of President Park in Washington, DC on December 6, 2012. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- President Obama threw the switch to light up the National Christmas Tree -- a 90-year-old holiday tradition in Washington.
"In times of war and peace, triumph and tragedy, we've always come together to rejoice in the Christmas miracle," Obama said Thursday evening on the Ellipse, ABC News reported.
The tree is a 28-foot Colorado blue spruce, The Hill said.
A tree that had stood at the location for three decades was felled by high winds last year. A replacement tree died and then the new tree, now decked out in ornaments and green lights, was planted in October.
"I feel good about this one," Obama said. "It was planted just days before Hurricane Sandy, and it made it through the storm in one piece."
The president praised the "heroism and perseverance" of people affected by the superstorm because they show "that Americans will always be stronger than the challenges that we face."
"For centuries, the message of Christmas -- of peace and goodwill to all -- has guided millions of people around the world through good times but also through bad times. This year is no different," Obama said.
The president was joined by his wife, daughters and mother-in law. Providing musical entertainment were Jason Mraz, James Taylor, Colbie Caillat and The Fray, among others.
Neil Patrick Harris of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" hosted the ceremony.