First Family Sets National Christmas Tree Aglow

A star-studded lineup helped the first family celebrate the lighting of the National Christmas Tree Thursday evening.

Common hosted the event, with Miss America Caressa Cameron assisting the MC with his master of ceremonies duties during the preshow festivities from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Prior to the lighting, singer-songwriters Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson teamed for a duet.

Then President Barack Obama addressed the crowd before inviting his family up to help light the tree, which was followed immediately by a performance of "Oh Holy Night" by "America's Got Talent" darling Jackie Evancho -- the 10-year-old soprano with the full-grown pipes.

Before the music portion of the evening continued, the first lady invited some children on stage for her traditional reading of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."

In honor of the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death, this year's ceremony featured a performance of Lennon's classic Christmas message, "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)," courtesy of Maroon 5 with Bareilles, the U.S. Coast Guard Band and D.C.'s own Duke Ellington School of the Arts Choir.

Of course, Santa Claus dropped by, delighting the crowd, particularly the kids.

President Calvin Coolidge hosted the first National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in 1923.

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