Ornaments by a local Missouri artist will dazzle President’s Park (White House) in Washington, D.C., as part of the 95th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting display.
Jennifer Dodson, from Eminence, designed ornaments that showcase historic structures from national parks and historic sites in Missouri, with an emphasis on Ozark National Scenic Riverways, which graces six of the 12 ornaments. Dodson was nominated for this honor by Ozark National Scenic Riverways, where her talents as a volunteer artist are well-known.
The handcrafted ornaments will adorn one of 56 trees representing each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia from Dec. 1 through Jan. 1 as part of the America Celebrates display.
“It is such an honor to decorate my home state tree and help the nation celebrate the holidays in one of our most recognizable national parks – this is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity,” Dodson said. “I get the unique opportunity to show the nation many of Missouri’s crown jewels, and also pay tribute to my home park, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, which was recently devastated by record flooding in late April of this year. I want to celebrate the spirit of recovery and resilience that have been demonstrated by the people of our area and convey the message that although we have been bruised a bit, we are alive and ready for visitors!”
The artist chose to paint historic structures because they have stood the test of time and are of great cultural significance, with each having a unique story to tell. The ornaments depict snow scenes, representing the abounding serenity and peace found in many of the parks, particularly in winter months.
“One can stand at any given area of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways during a snowstorm in the off-season and actually hear the snow falling on the ground,” Didson said.
Dodson’s ornaments depicting Ozark National Scenic Riverways include: Alley Spring Mill, Storys Creek Schoolhouse, Klepzig Mill, the Chilton House, Welch Hospital, and Big Spring Lodge. In addition to featuring Ozark Riverways, Dodson painted ornaments to represent Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Gateway Arch), Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site (White Haven), Harry S Truman National Historic Site (Truman Home), George Washington Carver National Monument (Moses Carver House), Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield (Ray House), and Mark Twain National Forest (Falling Spring Mill). The back of each ornament is painted with a unique date logo, depicting the state of Missouri and a dot representing the location of each featured site. Each six-inch globe ornament took approximately four hours to paint.
Presented by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, the National Christmas Tree Lighting is one of America’s oldest holiday traditions. The first lighting took place 95 years ago on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse. Since 1923, each succeeding president has carried on the tradition.
For more event information and updates, visit www.thenationaltree.org and follow the National Christmas Tree on Twitter at @TheNationalTree. Join the conversation online using the hashtag #NCTL2017. Through a partnership with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, Hallmark Channel will exclusively broadcast the National Christmas Tree Lighting on Monday (Dec. 4).