Reflections on Holidays in Our National Parks

By Alanna Sobel on 12/31/2011

Can you believe it’s already New Year’s Eve? Boy did this year fly by fast! Just yesterday, I found myself reflecting on how meaningful this holiday season has been for me. And it occurred to me that it's the first time I've celebrated the holidays in our national parks. I attended both the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony and the National Menorah Lighting in President's Park and both were such festive and fun experiences! We're so fortunate that our national parks offer so many unique ways to enjoy and celebrate the holidays!

And I'm not the only one who feels this way! Michael Faison of the Idaho Commission on the Arts (the official state agency for the support and development of the Arts in Idaho), which selected the local artist and arts youth group that designed and created the 2011 ornaments for Idaho's state tree, wrote about his experience at the National Christmas Tree display and you can read it below.

(In case you want a little background on the state and territory trees, here's the deal: A local artist and local youth were selected from each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia to design and create 24 ornaments. Twenty-three of the ornaments are hanging from the state and territory trees surrounding the National Christmas Tree in President's Park. One ornament from all 56 states, territories and the District of Columbia are showcased on the White House Visitor Center Christmas tree. You can get the inside scoop on all of the 2011 state/territory ornaments here!)

Guest blog post by Michael Faison, Executive Director of Idaho Commission on the Arts

It happens that I was able to be in Washington, DC last week and took the occasion to go see the National Christmas Tree display in President's Park. It is spectacular and does credit to Idaho and all the other states and territories.

There, behind the White House, the National Christmas Tree sits, surrounded by smaller trees representing all the states and territorial jurisdictions. Notable also is the stage where, when I came by in the evening, children's groups were doing seasonal song and dance performances – they were pretty amazing performances too. There were loads of visitors- a veritable sea of people moving through the displays.

It was fun walking from tree to tree, seeing what each state had sent for their display, in a few cases even recognizing the schools or organizations that had sent the ornaments for their state trees. I came across Guam and Pennsylvania and remembered good friends and colleagues I have there, who would have directed their states' efforts. They and others gave me the warm thought of all those kids from all these places who had sat in classrooms and created these lovely ornaments for their trees, sealed them into globes, and shipped them off to Washington, DC, so that they now glisten on Christmas trees at the White House.

It's all rather cool if I say so myself.

So, many congratulations to the kids of the Kroc Center and many thanks to the crew at the National Park Foundation for managing what must be overwhelming logistics to make it all happen so splendidly. It's worth all the effort.