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Area resident helps decorate Presidential home for the holidays

Like many of us, Johnson City resident Liz Bushong recently spent several days decorating for the holiday season.
But while the rest of us were draping garland and lights along our front porches, Bushong was busy turning the White House into a Christmas spectacular.
“I was fortunate enough to be invited last year as a volunteer decorator and blessed to return again this year,” Bushong said. “It’s a dream come true.”
Bushong’s road to the White House began nearly seven years ago.
“I was floundering around trying to decide what on earth I was supposed to do with all these creative abilities and skills God has given me,” Bushong said. “I was watching TV and, for some reason, the White House popped into my head.”
After a little research, Bushong learned about the opportunity to decorate the White House for Christmas.
“It’s a process. You actually have to apply,” Bushong said. “I have a whole file of rejection letters. It took me about 7 years of applying to get approved and accepted.”
Last year marked Bushong’s first visit to the White House as a volunteer decorator.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Bushong said. “I didn’t know what we’d be doing. All I was told was to show up at 7:30 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving and expect to work for five days.”
Bushong spent much of those five days in the floral shop making bows to be put throughout the interior and exterior of the White House. She even earned the title of “bowologist” for all her efforts.
“This year was a little different. We were assigned to rooms,” Bushong said. “I was assigned to the China Room, which is where all the past presidents’ table place settings are. Every administration has its own china set.”
Bushong was particularly excited to be assigned to the China Room because that was where pastry chefs were busy building a gingerbread replica of the White House.
“I have a cookbook out called Just Desserts and I love any time I can be around the pastry chefs and gingerbread houses,” Bushong said.
Shortly after Bushing arrived, the gingerbread house was moved to the State Dining Room in the White House and she and other volunteers got to work decorating the room.
The China Room, with its white walls and red accents, was adorned in baby blue, fuchsia and wine colored decorations.
“We were really worried about how it was going to look at first,” Bushong said of the color scheme. “But when we were finished, it was the most stunning room I’d ever seen. All of this year’s decorations were very elegant and exciting. It really stimulated my creativity.”
Although Bushong didn’t catch a glimpse of any human members of the first family, she said Bo, the White House’s canine resident, was hanging around.
“He was adorable,” Bushong said. “He was prancing up and down the halls of the lower level with his trainer. He was very poised.”
As a part of the holiday décor, a team of decorators even created a life-size replica of the pup, using 40,000 black and white pipe cleaners to create the Portuguese Water Dog, Bushong said.
In all, 97 volunteers took part in decorating the White House for Christmas, representing 27 different states. According to Bushong, four of the volunteers, including her, were from Tennessee.
“Being invited to decorate a second year was truly overwhelming and I am very grateful,” Bushong said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to decorate the ‘People’s House’ this Christmas season.”
For more about Bushong, visit her website at www.lizbushong.com.