WATCH: President Donald Trump, Melania Trump lead the lighting of the National Christmas Tree

AP logo
Thursday, November 29, 2018
EMBED <>More Videos

President Donald Trump led a countdown for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on Wednesday, and first lady Melania Trump hit the switch.

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.

PHOTOS: White House Christmas decorations

1 of 17
Topiary trees line the East colonnade during the 2018 Christmas Press Preview at the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018.
Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

"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.

"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."

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

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

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.

PHOTOS: The National Christmas Tree lighting through the years

1 of 30
President Franklin Roosevelt is shown above at Christmas-tree lighting ceremony Dec. 24, 1939 in Washington.
AP Photo

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

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.

RELATED STORIES:

The top five picks for Christmas trees

How to make your Christmas tree last a long time

Official White House Christmas Tree welcomed by Trumps