Trumps light National Christmas Tree south of White House

Trumps light National Christmas Tree south of White House
President Donald Trump speaks during the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Source: Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the nation's capital.

President Donald Trump led a countdown for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on Wednesday, and first lady Melania Trump hit the switch to illuminate the decked-out spruce in President's Park, just south of the White House.

"Merry Christmas, everybody," the president said. "We just have to say it all together: Merry, merry Christmas."

It's the 96th straight year for the presidential tradition.

Speaking at the close of the event, which featured musical performances from LOCASH, Spensha Baker, Gabby Barrett, Abby Anderson and others, Trump paused to recognize the victims of disasters across the country this year.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump light the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump light the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Source: Susan Walsh)

"Our thoughts turn to those who are rebuilding their lives after devastating wildfires, destructive hurricanes and terrible tragedy," he said. "We are one American family, and we hurt together, and we heal together, and we will always pull through together."

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave after lighting the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave after lighting the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Source: Susan Walsh)

Trump also honored foster families in attendance, first responders, as well as members of the military and their loved ones.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave after lighting the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave after lighting the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Source: Susan Walsh)

"Their families are all our families," he said.

Ffirst lady Melania Trump waves after lighting the National Christmas Tree during a ceremony on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Ffirst lady Melania Trump waves after lighting the National Christmas Tree during a ceremony on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Source: Andrew Harnik)

The president's children Don Jr. and Tiffany, daughter-in-law Lara Trump, Don Jr.'s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke were also in attendance.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Source: Andrew Harnik)

The first lighting took place on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators.

President Donald Trump speaks as he and first lady Melania Trump attend the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump speaks as he and first lady Melania Trump attend the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Source: Susan Walsh)

The National Christmas Tree is a living Colorado blue spruce. It is surrounded by 56 smaller trees featuring ornaments from every state and territory and the District of Columbia.

President Donald Trump waves at the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump waves at the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Source: Susan Walsh)
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke greets first lady Melania Trump before President Donald Trump speaks during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke greets first lady Melania Trump before President Donald Trump speaks during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Source: Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Source: Susan Walsh)
Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump arrive before President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump light the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump arrive before President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump light the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Source: Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave as they attend the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave as they attend the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Source: Susan Walsh)