Chesterfield, MO -  – The White House has started their Christmas decorating with a fresh Christmas Tree grown by an American farm family. The beautiful 18 ½ foot-tall Concolor fir Christmas Tree was presented by Chris Botek, owner of Crystal Spring Tree Farm, Lehighton, PA.

The tree will be the official White House Christmas Tree and displayed in the Blue Room, serving as the centerpiece of the White House decorations. The Blue Room Christmas Tree was presented to First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters by Botek and his family.

Botek earned the honor of providing the White House Christmas Tree by winning the National Christmas Tree Association’s (NCTA) National Christmas Tree Contest in July of this year in Allegan, Michigan and becoming Grand Champion. The Blue Room Christmas Tree was handpicked by White House Usher, Angela Reid, White House Superintendent of Grounds Dale Haney and Chief Horticulturist Jim Adams with the National Park Service on September 24, 2014.

After the tree was pulled up to the North Portico in a wagon by a team of draft horses, the First Lady and daughters walked around the big tree and had big smiles. Also on hand were NCTA President Blake Rafeld and his wife Chris, owners of Sugargrove Tree Farm in Ashland, OH.

“The Botek’s are great representatives of all Christmas Tree farmers,” said Rafeld. “I’m proud to be part of this great tradition.” (White House Christmas Tree, page 2) Christmas Trees have been in the Botek family for nearly 75 years when they began selling them at a small family run grocery store. In 1964, Francis and Margaret Botek bought about 25 acres of land and began growing Christmas Trees. The farm, now run by Francis and Margret’s son, Chris, is nearly 200 acres and provides about 15 varieties of Christmas Trees.

The Botek family is looking forward to celebrating their farm’s 50th Anniversary in conjunction with being Grand Champion this year. “An honor like this rarely happens once in a lifetime, but to have it three times is truly a blessing,” said Botek. Crystal Spring Tree Farm is the only farm in Pennsylvania to ever present a White House Christmas Tree three times.

To enter NCTA’s National Tree Contest and compete for a chance to provide the White House Christmas Tree, farmers must first win their state/regional competitions in the previous 12 months. “The whole tree industry benefits from this opportunity, no matter what kind of trees you grow on your farm,” said Blake Rafeld of Ashland OH, current President of NCTA who was also in attendance. “I wish the whole country could see that the entire White House is decorated with real Christmas trees and greenery, grown by American farmers.”

Members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented the official White House Christmas Tree for display in the Blue Room since 1966. For accompanying photos of the presentation event, email dungey@realchristmastrees.org or call 636-449-5071.

ABOUT NCTA The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) is the national trade association representing the farm-grown Christmas tree industry. NCTA represents around 600 active member farms, 29 state and regional associations, and more than 3,800 affiliated businesses that grow and sell Christmas trees or provide related supplies and services. It is estimated that those affiliated with the NCTA produce roughly three-quarters of the farm-raised Christmas Trees in the United States. To learn more about the NCTA, visit www.realchristmastrees.org,

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