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White House Christmas Tree Arrives

December 1, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The kids singing ``Jingle Bells″ on the White House steps wore furry red caps and short-sleeve shirts. Santa Claus broke a sweat over his thick white beard. And for Hillary Rodham Clinton, it just didn’t feel like the Christmas season.

An improbably warm, summer-like sun greeted the 18 1/2-foot White House Christmas tree Tuesday as it rolled up to the South Portico on a horse-drawn carriage.

``When you think about this weather, it’s a little hard to get into the Christmas spirit. Except that I think it’ll start building here at the White House,″ Mrs. Clinton said.

The first lady was joined by James and Diane Chapmanm _ who grew the winning balsam fir at their Silent Night Evergreens Farm in Endeavor, Wisc. _ as well as two dozen local schoolchildren in the Mann-Murch Chorus, and a fully costumed Santa.

The White House will be shuttered this weekend, Mrs. Clinton said, as teams of volunteers ``with a Santa’s-workshop feeling″ scurry to finish the mansion’s elaborate holiday decorations by midnight Saturday, including the main tree in the Blue Oval Room.

It will take much longer for the Clinton family to dress the tree _ also donated by the Chapmans _ in the Yellow Oval Room of their personal living quarters.

``It takes us a long time, because we have to take out every ornament and say, ‘Awwww, remember this ornament?’ And, ‘No, don’t put it there; put it somewhere else.’

``We decorate over three to four days. It’s one of the things we do together as a family. Then, as friends and family come in they all get to kibitz and add to it,″ Mrs. Clinton said.

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