GE's Nela Park plays key role in national tree lighting in Washington, D.C.

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio - General Electric's Nela Park in East Cleveland had its annual lighting ceremony illuminate Noble Road this week, but its contribution to a special tree in front of the Whitehouse made headlines Thursday.

Celebrating its 50th year of donating lights and the design of those lights to the National Christmas Tree and the 57 trees representing the states and territories, GE once again sent its crew of experts to the nation's capitol to represent  northeast Ohio.

This will be the third year that LED lights have replaced incandescent lights for the display. The lights will use approximately 4,000 watts of energy as opposed to the 20,000 watts that the incandescent lamps had used previously.

Mary Beth Gotti of GE's Lighting Institute said moving from the traditional lights was a step toward an incredible energy savings.

"It's really a significant savings, said Gotti."

The National Christmas Tree tradition was started in the early 1920s by President Calvin Coolidge. It is now celebrating its 90th year. The national tree wasn't always a live tree each year. A 42-foot Colorado blue spruce, which was planted in 1978, blew over in a storm in 2011. It was soon replaced by a tree found in New Jersey, but did not take to the District of Columbia's dirt. The National Park Service is in charge of its care.

A search for a new, perfect, tree ended in one woman's yard in Virginia some time during the summer. A deal was struck for $5,000, and a 56-mile trip then ensued to the Whitehouse. Planted in October with great care, it has been maintained, then fitted with a mesh of lights surrounding it, keeping its branches safe from extra, dangerous weight.

"The tree has to be uniform all around, being beautiful from an aesthetic standpoint, but also from a horticulture standpoint," said the National Park Service's John Stanwich.

The National Tree was lighted Thursday evening to a crowd of more than 20,000, 17,000 of whom had won the chance to see the illumination by an online lottery.

GE's contribution of thousand's of lights from northeastern Ohio included 450 strands of 100 lights and more than 120 star-shaped ornaments to set the tree a glow.

Commemorating the 90th year since the first tree lighting, Nela Park designers used the same color theme -- red, white and green -- as well as an heirloom topper design fitted with GE's unique TetraMax LED system for better efficiency and a brighter light output.

The tree lighting was seen live, sponsored by GE lighting and the National Park Foundation, at: http://www.thenationaltree.org

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