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Jonesborough ornament to be featured on White House Christmas tree

The White House Christmas tree will take on a travel theme this year and Tennessee’s Oldest Town will be among the hundreds of areas showcased on its branches.
Jonesborough Director of Tourism Alicia Phelps received an e-mail earlier this year about the tree’s theme and a request for ornaments to decorate the tree, which sits in the Blue Room of the White House and is considered the official indoor Christmas tree of the residence.
“I was so excited,” Phelps said. “I mean, of course Jonesborough should be on there.”
Phelps selected an ornament that showcases the downtown area of Jonesborough while shining a spotlight on the town’s title as the Storytelling Capital of the World.
“It’s not our newest ornament, but it’s one of our most popular,” Phelps said. “It really features what we are known for – those big storytelling tents and our beautiful downtown.”
The ornament’s design was a collaborative effort between the Jonesborough Kiwanis Club, the Town of Jonesborough, the National Storytelling Network and the International Storytelling Center to celebrate the art of storytelling and the foresight of a town that is committed to looking forward while honoring its past.
When Phelps learned the ornament had been chosen to hang on the White House tree, she immediately mailed it off to the tree designer.
“I hope that we’ll have a key spot on there so we can really stand out,” Phelps said. “As far as I know, this is the first time we’ve done this.”
This is not, however, the first time the White House Christmas tree has garnered attention for its unique display. The First Lady of the United States has led the charge in choosing a theme for the tree each year since 1961.
Last year, Michelle Obama opted for the theme, “Reflect, Rejoice, Renew,” and used approximately 800 ornaments left over from previous administrations that were then decorated by community groups across the country to pay tribute to favorite local landmarks.
The tree itself is donated each year by the National Christmas Tree Association, which selects the winner through a contest for members of the organization.
This year, the tree is a 20-year-old Douglas fir from Lehighton, Pa. It is expected to arrive at the White House shortly after Thanksgiving on the traditional horse-drawn carriage to the North Portico where it will be received by the First Lady.
The tree will be on display throughout the holiday season. And while it’s there, Phelps hopes the Jonesborough ornament catches the eye of the White House’s top resident.
“I hope President Obama sees it, and I would hope that they’d want to come visit,” she said. “We’d love to have them.”
Meanwhile, local residents won’t have to travel to the nation’s capital to see the Jonesborough ornament hanging from a tree. It, along with several other town-themed ornaments, is now on sale at the Jonesborough Visitors Center for others to take home and use on their own Christmas trees.