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NPS assessing National Christmas Tree for damages after man scales spruce near White House lawn

December 22, 2018

The National Christmas Tree near the White House is being assessed for damages after an individual scaled the spruce Friday night, attracting the attention of federal law enforcement officials prior to descending over an hour later.

Members of the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Park Police both responded to the scene at President’s Park on the north side of the Ellipse after a person began climbing the Christmas tree at around 5:45 p.m., the National Park Service said in a statement.

The unidentified tree-climber made it between 15 and 20 feet off the ground prior to coming down “on his own accord,” the statement said.

Two negotiators convinced the man to leave the tree at about 7 p.m., U.S. Park Police Sgt. Eduardo Delgado told WTOP, a local news radio network.

The individual was subsequently transferred to a hospital for evaluation, the NPS said in the statement.

“The National Christmas Tree site is closed and the tree lights will remain off until the National Park Service assesses for damage,” the statement said.

Saturday’s “holiday performance in President [sic] Park, which was the last of the season, is canceled,” NPS added.

Groups including the Pageant of Peace Choir from Chantilly, Virginia, and The Four Seasons Dancers from Rockville, Maryland, had been scheduled to perform Saturday, according to the NPS website.

The tree climber is not necessarily to blame for their absence, however.

“During the federal government shutdown, the White House Visitor Center and National Christmas Tree site will be closed,” reads a notice published on the NPS website in response to the partial shutdown that started Saturday.

Moved to President’s Park in 2012, the National Christmas Tree is a 28-foot Colorado blue spruce grown in neighboring Virginia. It is illuminated each winter ahead of Christmas during an annual tree-lighting ceremony traditionally attended by the president.

President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, participated in the 2018 tree-lighting ceremony on November 28.

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