Official White House Christmas tree selected from Wisconsin

The official 2016 White House Christmas tree from the Whispering Pines Tree Farm in Oconto, Wisc. is ribboned on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, and will be harvested in November as it heads to the White House the day after Thanksgiving. (WLUK)

OCONTO, Wisc. (WLUK) - A Christmas tree from Wisconsin will be headed to Washington, D.C. as the official 2016 White House Christmas tree.

Staff members from the White House were in Oconto Tuesday morning and have selected the tree that will be showcased in the White House's Blue Room this Christmas.

The tree was selected from Dave and Mary Vander Velden's Whispering Pines Tree Farm, which won the National Christmas Tree Association's biannual Christmas tree contest.

"It's really good, it's a really good feeling, something to be proud of," said Dave Vander Velden.

This is the third time that a tree farm from Wisconsin has been awarded with the honor, the last being in 2011, when Neenah-based Schroeder's Forevergreens provided a tree from the company's farm in Neshkoro.

Whispering Pines also provided the official state Capitol Christmas tree in 2013.

It wasn't a quick decision for White House staff members, as they took their time exploring the Vander Veldens' tree farm.

They looked for what they said needed to be right the shape, smell, and color, meeting requirements such as being between 18 and 19 feet tall.

Vander Velden says the tree that has received the ribbon of honor is truly one of a kind, "I've been doing all experimental trees, trying all different strains, varieties, trying to find the goose that laid the golden egg, and this is one of them that turned out pretty good."

The Vander Veldens will be presenting the tree to the first lady at the White House the day after Thanksgiving, and, as you can imagine, it's every tree farmer's dream.

"When we won the national championship, that's like winning the Super Bowl, winning the gold medal at the Olympics, it was the best Christmas tree in the country, that's a lot," said Vander Velden.

This is also the 51st tree the National Christmas Tree Association has provided the White House.

And it wasn't just the tree that has made the Vander Velden farm stand out.

"They have train rides like these to take families out to select and cut their own Christmas trees, they offer hot cocoa, and they have a Santa shop," said Ann O'Connor of the National Christmas Tree Association.

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