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Lehigh Valley Tree Farmer Provides White House Christmas Tree For Third Year

A Christmas tree is pictured in the Blue Room during a media walk-through of the holiday decorations at the White House in Washington, DC, on December 1, 2010. (Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

A Christmas tree is pictured in the Blue Room during a media walk-through of the holiday decorations at the White House in Washington, DC, on December 1, 2010. (Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The White House takes delivery, today, of its official Christmas tree– an 18-and-a-half-foot Douglass fir from right here in Eastern Pennsylvania. This is the third time the Lehigh Valley’s Crystal Springs farm has provided the first family’s tree.

“The tree was planted on the farm in 1996 so, in the field, it was about 21 feet.”

Chris Botek is the big tree guy. Twice, his farm’s Goliaths have won the National Christmas Tree contest, in 2006 and 2010. Since winners have to wait four years to enter again, he shouldn’t even have been in the running to provide the White House tree this year.

But it turns out this year’s winner — from North Jersey — is not a big tree guy and the White House is really particular about size, “When they couldn’t find one big enough, they remembered me.”

So Botek has the distinction of having provided the White House tree three times in seven years. He says the big trees are hard to grow, hard to cut and risky, but they have their rewards.

“When you see the families come to pick their tree and you see how happy they are and you realize something you worked so hard for, they’re going to celebrate around, It means a lot.”

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