First Lady Melania Trump Reads Christmas Story to Hospitalized Children

House Nancy Pelosi speaks ahead of the U.S. Capitol Tree lighting ceremony in Washington DC on Dec. 4 2019

Mr. Trump, in a brief remark on stage, thanked the nation's armed forces and first responders. As one grateful nation we praise the joy of family, the blessings of freedom and the miracle of Christmas.

"Melania and I would like to wish you a very, very merry Christmas", the president said to his guests.

New York City's iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was illuminated Wednesday night during its famous annual ceremony, marking the beginning of another holiday season in the Big Apple.

The event was also hosted by country singer Jessie James Decker, along with performances by "American Idol" alum Colton Dixon and "The Voice" contestants Spensha Baker and Cheval Shepherd.

The White House says the first lady toured a short-stay unit and a surgical unit at Children's National hospital in Washington on Friday. The 30-foot (9-meter) tree is decorated with 50,000 lights and 450 giant white star ornaments.

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The tradition of a Christmastime visit with hospitalized children by a first lady dates back decades.

The tree will be illuminated every day from 5:30 p.m. (2230 GMT) to 11:30 p.m. (0430 GMT) through January 7, 2020, except on Christmas day, when the tree's lights will shine for 24 hours.

The decorations of the event consisted of 58 Christmas trees, over 15,000 bows and more than 2,500 strands of lights, the White House reported. The tree is surrounded by 56 smaller trees featuring ornaments from every state and territory and the District of Columbia.

The tree will light up daily at approximately 4:30 p.m. and turn off promptly at 10 pm Sunday-Thursday, and 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

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