Larry’s Tree — A Christmas Journey To The White House
Larry Smith is a humble Christmas tree farmer from the mountain top town of Newland, NC, population For 40 years, he’s had a dream, a solitary goal that’s driven him, year-in and year-out.
Since he was a teenager, Larry Smith has worked to be the American farmer who provided the spectacular Christmas tree that is the centerpiece of the Blue Room and the heart of the annual White House Christmas decor.
Larry’s dream finally came true – he calls it “my Super Bowl.”
And we followed along every step of the way, from the tiny town of Newland all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, creating a wholly unique half-hour Christmas special called ‘Larry’s Tree: A Christmas Journey To The White House’.
Along the way we’ll meet others who were part of the journey. We join the White House team for the actual selection of the tree from Larry’s farm, we go back for the all-hands-on-deck harvest of a 25-foot Christmas tree, and then we’ll follow along and see the White House transform for Christmas in a spectacular montage that closes the show. You’ll also hear about the 150-year history of the White House Christmas Tree – not everybody was always a fan!
You will get to know one man, one town, one spirit that unites us all as a nation. It’s the story of an American dream come true. We couldn’t be prouder to tell it.
From all of us to all of you, Merry Christmas and the happiest of Holiday Seasons!
A Stetson Mansion Christmas
If you’ve ever worn a cowboy hat, there’s a very good chance John B. Stetson’s name was inside. After all, he invented it. That made his fortune. But it was hardly the only trail he ever blazed.
Stetson was the first Yankee industrialist to move to Florida, arriving in 1886 and building the state’s first million-dollar home. It was a Gilded Age palace, three stories and 10,000 square feet with no expense spared. Exquisite hardwood parquet floors still gleam. There are 13 bathrooms alone!
The home is a private residence now. You can visit anytime, but the best time by far is Christmas. The Stetson Mansion becomes a holiday wonderland in a transformation that actually begins each summer!
Planning starts months ahead to bring 10 of the main Mansion rooms into life as unique Christmas spectaculars unto themselves. The 2-acre grounds are adorned with gardens, gazebos, fountains, patios, and a pool. Next to the main house is an 800 sq. ft. Polynesian-style building originally built to serve as the kitchen for the mansion. When a new kitchen was added to the home, it became a private schoolhouse for the Stetson children.
The Stetsons were progressive for the times – they would allow some of their employees’ children to also attend the school. And Stetson as an employer transformed a mosquito-laden swamp into the modern town of Deland, FL.
Stetson brought municipal water to town. His good friend, Thomas Edison, personally wired the house for electricity, one of the first such installations in the world.
Other notables paraded through the Stetson Mansion in its heyday. John and Mary Astor, the Mellons, the Vanderbilts, the Carnegies, Henry Flagler, Baron Frederick DeBary (of famed DeBary Hall), President Grover Cleveland, and King Edward VII (then Prince of Wales).
The Mansion was known for hosting grand parties and receptions for some of society’s most elite members. You can relive that experience today. The doorway to the Mansion is a time machine of sorts – step through and you’ll be instantly transported to the elegance of a different era.
And this year, we’ll take you there for an unforgettable Christmas.