White House Christmas tree cut down in Oconto


OCONTO, Wis. (WBAY) It’s less than two weeks away from Thanksgiving and the majority of Americans will begin “decking the halls” for Christmas after the holiday.

However, representatives from the White House are already getting ready with some help from northeast Wisconsin.

Tuesday morning was an exciting one for third graders from Green Bay’s Tank Elementary School and fourth graders from Oconto Elementary School.

It’s even more exciting for Dave Vander Velden and his family. A tree from their tree farm, Whispering Pines Tree Farm, will soon be on display in the White House Blue Room.

“We won that honor by winning the national championship for the best tree in the country so this is kind of like the carrot at the end of the stick,” Vander Velden said.

Out of all of the trees at Whispering Pines Tree Farm, White House Staff members chose a 20 by 12 rare Balsam Fir mix in September.

Since that decision, Vander Velden said he’s taken good care of it.

“I’ve kind of trained some of the branches to go certain ways, you know, make it look a little bit better,” said Vander Velden.

The tree was cut down Tuesday morning and will be loaded into a Schneider trailer Thursday or Friday.

“A rather short trip, a day and a half,” Chip Hill, who is driving the tree to Washington, D.C. said.

“We get to present the tree to Michelle Obama. We’ll meet her in the White House,” said Vander Velden.

The presentation will be Friday, November 25.

“It’s a dream. it’s like a Super Bowl. It’s like a gold medal at the Olympics it doesn’t get any better,” said Vander Velden.

State leaders said it is not only an honor for Vander Velden, but for the whole state.

“To have a national recognition — Wisconsin takes pride any time that can happen,” said Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection Ben Brancel.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Wisconsin to go ahead and have that tree showcased at the White House to really showcase how important agriculture is to our state,” Ann O’Leary, the 69th Alice in Dairyland, said.