For the second time in three years, trees from the Hedlund Christmas Tree Farm in Elma, Washington, graced the White House during the holidays.
“I never dreamed that my passion for growing Christmas trees would get me to the White House to meet the president and first lady,” said Ed Hedlund. The Washington State University graduate (’75 Forestry) started planting trees in 1980. Eight years later, he participated in his first national competition sponsored by the National Christmas Tree Association of St. Louis.
The land services supervisor for Rayonier, Inc. in Hoquiam won the 1998 competition and the honor of providing the “official White House Christmas tree” to the Clintons in 1999. He and his wife, Cindy, also attended the millenium New Year’s Eve party in the White House.
In 2002, the Hedlunds won again. This time they and their son, Thomas, 14, spent more than a half hour with the Bushes in the Oval Office. The president talked about the carpet design, his wife Laura’s creation; the history of the photos on the walls; and the significance of the presidential seal-an American eagle clutching in its claws arrows and an olive branch, symbolizing war and peace.
During their four-day stay in Washington, the Hedlunds visited the Washington Monument, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, and the Smithsonian.
Last October 18, White House staff members visited the 50-acre Hedlund tree farm. The owners had identified an 18-1/2-foot noble fir that was selected for the Blue Room, and a 12-footer for the first couple’s private residence. The trees were cut November 25 and arrived at the White House December 1. They reported pre-Christmas sales were brisk at their “Choose and Cut” operation in the Satsop Valley. They also sell wholesale to customers as far away as Hong Kong.