As soon as the tree burst into color, singing diva Aretha Franklin took to the stage for a spirited version of "Joy to the World."
December 6, 2013

President Barack Obama has thrown the switch, bathing the National Christmas Tree in lights and giving an otherwise dreary day in the nation's capital a festive and seasonal spirit.

As he and his family flipped the switch to light the National Christmas Tree Thursday night, President Barack Obama said he hopes the tree lasts longer than its predecessor, which died after just a year.

"Our tree has been having a hard time recently. This is our third one in as many years," Obama said, noting that a tree that stood near the White House for more than three decades was lost in a storm early last year. Its replacement didn't take hold.

"It just goes to show, nobody's job is safe here in Washington," Obama joked.

One month after winning re-election, Obama said he is optimistic about the latest tree, a 28-foot blue spruce that was transplanted just days before Hurricane Sandy and made it through the storm seemingly unharmed.

As soon as the tree burst into color, singing diva Aretha Franklin took to the stage for a spirited version of "Joy to the World."

The first lady read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," taking turns with a Sesame Street Muppet named Abby.

The National Christmas Tree ablaze with white lights and stars, Obama joined the singers on stage in a singalong version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" before heading home, a short motorcade ride away.

"War on Christmas," indeed.

With wire reports

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