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National Christmas Tree dies, is cut down

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The National Christmas Tree, which stands on the Ellipse just south of the White House, has died and was cut down Saturday morning.

The 28-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce was transplanted March 19, 2011 after high winds toppled a predecessor. But the National Park Service said in a statement that the tree, which was brought here from a tree farm in New Jersey, died as a result of “complications from transplant shock.”

In one of Washington’s most popular annual traditions, the tree is bedecked with lights for the Christmas holiday season. In an evening ceremony, the first family usually throws a switch to set the tree dazzlingly aglow.

The tree must be tall, but transplanting a mature tree is challenging, Park Service spokesman Bill Line said. In addition, he said, the tree was harmed by last summer’s record heat and winter’s unusual warmth.

Line said a new Colorado blue spruce has already been identified and will be put in place in late October, when its chances to thrive should be greater.

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