The Rockford Area Arts Council’s ArtsPlace program was chosen to design and create the ornaments for Illinois’ tree for the 2012 National Christmas Tree display in President’s Park in Washington, D.C. The National Tree-Lighting Ceremony was Thursday, Dec. 6.
Sculpture Artist Marco Basurto and ArtsPlace apprentices designed and created 24 ornaments. One has been placed on the National Tree, and the remaining 23 decorate the Illinois tree.
Erika Carroll, a former ArtsPlace apprentice and current Howard University student in Washington, D.C., attended the tree-lighting ceremony to represent Rockford.
“It was an honor for our ArtsPlace program to be selected and represent Illinois and the Rockford area,” said Anne O’Keefe, CEO of the Rockford Area Arts Council. “It is especially an honor to represent the home state of President Obama.”
Basurto and apprentices from the Rockford Area Arts Council’s ArtsPlace program used local and state landmarks as inspiration. Basurto challenged the youth to use recycled materials for the project, and spent hours working with them in his studio and coaching them through social media.
The Arts Council has sponsored the ArtsPlace apprenticeship program for 17 years. Its mission is mentoring youth development through the arts.
Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation, said: “We are very pleased that Marco Basurto and the Rockford Area Arts Council will represent Illinois in this year’s National Christmas Tree display. This time-honored tradition is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season.”
Four weeks of holiday events in President’s Park kicked off with the 90th National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony presented by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks.
As one of America’s oldest holiday traditions, the National Christmas Tree Lighting began on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse in President’s Park. Since 1923, each succeeding president has carried on the tradition of what now has become a month-long event presented by the National Park Foundation and National Park Service.
In addition to the National Christmas Tree display, President’s Park hosts a variety of family-oriented holiday attractions, such as the Santa’s Workshop, nightly holiday performances, a Yule log, nativity scene and model train display.
From the Dec. 12-18, 2012, issue