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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - President Barack Obama threw the switch to light the new National Christmas Tree at the 90th annual tree lighting ceremony Thursday evening.

The yearly tree lighting signals the official start of the holiday season for the nation's capitol.

Joined by first lady Michelle Obama and the first couple's daughters Malia and Sasha, the president counted down the seconds before the tree glowed with lights, applauded by the crowd.

The tree, a 28-foot Colorado blue spruce, was planted by the National Park Service in October after the previous tree, planted in 2011, died from 'transplant shock.' The former National Christmas Tree had stood from 1978 until high winds toppled it in March 2011. The president joked that this third tree shows that "Nobody's job is safe in Washington."

The tree lighting was hosted by actor Neil Patrick Harris, and included scheduled musical performances Kenny "Babyface" Edmunds, Colbie Caillat, James Taylor, Jason Mraz and The Fray.

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