Obamas came together with Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon to switch on the National Christmas Tree lights
- President had asked the crowd for a moment ‘to remember our fellow Americans whose hearts are heavy tonight’
- Event came just a day after 14 people were shot to death by a radicalized couple in San Bernardino, California
- Festive ceremony on Thursday evening marked the 93rd annual lighting of the Christmas tree near the White House
- Musicians Crosby, Stills and Nash, Kelsea Ballerini and Fall Out Boy all performed during the evening of festive fun
- The First Lady was joined by Miss Piggy to read stories to the children and Santa also made an appearance .
Barack Obama appealed to Americans to ‘come together as brothers and sisters’ as he was joined by the First Family to switch on the lights on the National Christmas Tree – just a day after 14 people were shot to death in Southern California.
The president was joined by his wife Michelle, daughters Malia and Sasha, and his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, as well as Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon for the ceremony to jump start the festive season.
This year’s festive event, which also featured a variety of musical performances, is taking place under somber circumstances a day after a radicalized Muslim married couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California.
‘This is of course the most wonderful time of the year, but we would be remiss not to take a moment to remember our fellow Americans whose hearts are heavy tonight, who grieve for loved ones, especially in San Bernardino, California,’ Obama said.
‘Their loss is our loss, too. We’re all one American family,’ he added.
As a backdrop to the ceremony, the U.S. flag flew at half-staff atop the White House, on Obama’s orders, in remembrance of the victims.
U.S. President Barack Obama sings carols along with (L-R) singer Aloe Blacc, actress Reese Witherspoon and his daughters Malia and Sasha during the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony
Big switch on: Barack Obama, with his family by his side, and actress Reese Witherspoon, react after lighting the National Christmas Tree
Sasha Obama flicks her hair as she walks to her seat with her father, President Obama, and grandmother Marian Robinson
Barack Obama receives a salute as he walks to his seat after switching on the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse of the National Mall
U.S. President Barack Obama, accompanied by his daughter Malia, Miss Piggy and, of course, Santa Claus, waves to the crowd during the National Christmas Tree Lighting
The Obama sisters appear to share a joke as they watch the ceremony, which is traditionally attended by the US President and the First Family
Malia (L) and Sasha Obama attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony on the Ellipse Washington December 3
Obama family at National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony
Thousands in Washington attended the 93rd Annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in front of the White House, on Thursday for the chance to see the first family celebrate the holiday season.
At the beginning of the ceremony, first daughters Sasha and Malia Obama joined their parents on stage to flip the switch and turn on the lights to the National Christmas Tree. They were accompanied by actress Reese Witherspoon who served as host during the event.
The dramatic lighting was followed by performances from Crosby, Stills and Nash, Kelsea Ballerini and band Fall Out Boy.
Michelle Obama was joined on stage by the Muppets’ Miss Piggy to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to the events younger attendees.
The president closed the ceremony by taking over the microphone to help Santa Claus belt out ‘Jingle Bells’.
This was the seventh time that the event has been hosted by the Obama family, since their first year at the White House for Christmas in 2009.
Before: Obama is joined by his wife Michelle, daughters Malia and Sasha, and his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, as well as Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon as he prepared to flip the switch to light the tree.
And after: President Obama was joined on the stage by first lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters Sasha, and Malia, along with Michelle’s mother Marian Robinson and Reese Witherspoon as the lights were switched on
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during the ceremony, which he hosted, at the Ellipse in Washington on Thursday
Obama waves to the crowds during the ceremony which was also hosted by Reese Witherspoon (left), along with first lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters Sasha and Malia
The First Family was joined by celebrities and guests to light the National Christmas tree during an evening of performances
The First Lady reads a festive tale, The Night Before Christmas, with Miss Piggy on the Ellipse of the National Mall on Thursday
First lady Michelle Obama and Muppet Miss Piggy read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ to children during the National Christmas Tree Lighting
The lighting of the tree is an annual tradition attended by the US President and the First Family. President Calvin Coolidge lit the first National Christmas tree, a 14.6 meter high Balsam fir, in 1923.
Michelle Obama and Miss Piggy read to children seated in front of the National Christmas Tree at the Pageant of Peace ceremony
The U.S. president hugs Santa Claus as Muppet Miss Piggy watches on during the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony on the Ellipse Washington
President Obama greets hostess Reese Witherspoon at the 93rd annual National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse, near the White House
Michelle Obama receives White House Christmas tree.
The ceremony became an annual White House tradition in 1923 during the Calvin Coolidge Administration when first lady Grace Coolidge allowed DC public schools to erect a Christmas tree on the White House Ellipse.
On Christmas Eve, President Coolidge lit the tree by walking onto a the Ellipse and pressing a button.
Every year since then, the White House has had a designated National Christmas Tree.
Lighting the tree was stopped briefly from 1942 to 1944, during World War II but took up again in 1945 when President Truman lit the tree.
‘This is the Christmas that a war-weary world has prayed for through long and awful years. With peace comes joy and gladness. The gloom of the war years fades as once more we light the National Community Christmas Tree,’ President Truman said at the ceremony.
Following President Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, the ceremony was postponed until exactly 30 days later to observe the period of national mourning.
‘Today we come to the end of a season of great national sorrow,’ President Johnson said at the ceremony, ‘and to the beginning of the season of great, eternal joy’.
U.S. President Barack Obama sings carols with singer Aloe Blacc (L), actress Reese Witherspoon and his daughter Malia (R) during the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington December 3
US President Barack Obama (3rd R) points to Santa Claus (C) during the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in President’s Park outside the White House in Washington, DC, December 3, 2015. Also pictures is singer Andra Day (2nd R) and singer Aloe Blacc (R)
US President Barack Obama and the First Family join performers to sing Christmas songs on the Ellipse of the National Mall December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. The First Family was joined by celebrities and guests to light the National Christmas tree during an evening of performances .
U.S. President Barack Obama and Santa Claus sing onstage together during the National Christmas Tree Lighting event
Sasha (left) and Malia Obama look on during the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse south of the White House in Washington, DC
The Obamas sit together to watch the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony, L-R: Daughters Maila and Sasha, Michelle’s mother Marian Robinson, first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama
Sasha Obama, right, and Malia Obama, laugh during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at the Ellipse in Washington, Thursday
Barack Obama (R) and First Lady Michelle Obama (2nd R) share a laugh with their daughters Malia (L) and Sasha (2nd L), and Marion Robinson (C), Michelle Obama’s mother, during the event in President’s Park outside the White House in Washington
The Obamas wrapped up for the cold as they took a seat in front of the stage to watch the musical performances
U.S. President Barack Obama bows his head in prayer during the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony.
The tree lighting made some major changes during the most recent Bush administration, when LED lights were used to decorate the tree and make it more energy-efficient.
The event comes just a day after Michelle Obama unveiled her record-breaking Christmas decorations at the White House.
For the first time in presidential festive history, the handcrafted 500-pound gingerbread house includes both the East and the West Wing – and it is coated in dark chocolate, instead of the customary white chocolate.
There are more trees than ever with 62 firs dotted about the residence, wildly outstripping the record of 36 set by the Clintons.
It means there are almost double the number of ornaments, totaling at least 70,000 trinkets, baubles, and fairy lights.
New at the White House this holiday season: penguins, snowmen and snow women, and hanging snowflakes. Returning this season: larger-than-life replicas of dogs Bo and Sunny, and an 18.5-foot tree in the Blue Room dedicated to military families
The National Christmas Tree is seen after being lit by US President Barack Obama, members of the First Family and hostess Reese Witherspoon
US President Barack Obama waves after lighting the National Christmas Tree with family and actress Reese Witherspoon as part of an festive annual tradition
U.S. President Barack Obama is silhouetted against the bright lights of the National Christmas Tree near the White House in Washington
First Lady Michelle Obama looks on at the National Christmas Tree with children after reading them The Night Before Christmas
Members of Crosby, Stills & Nash, perform on stage during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at the Ellipse in Washington
Fall Out Boy perform on the stage in front of the White House during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony
Before the switch on: The 2015 National Christmas Tree is seen ahead of the lighting ceremony on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington.