US & Canada

US National Christmas Tree blown down by heavy winds

The US "National Christmas Tree" lies toppled, 19 February
Image caption The tree was quickly reduced to mulch

Heavy winds have blown down the National Christmas Tree of the US, which had stood near the White House since 1978.

Within hours of its fall, the 42ft (13m) Colorado blue spruce was ground into mulch.

Plans are being drawn up by the National Park Service for a replacement, expected to be in place this spring.

The national tree is a tradition going back to 1923.

Nobody was injured in Saturday's incident.

"We're glad that it took place at a time when people were away from the tree and we are saddened that it has happened," said National Park Service spokesman Bill Line.

President Calvin Coolidge lit up the first tree and its successor which fell on Saturday was inaugurated when Jimmy Carter was in office.

The White House Christmas tree, by contrast, is harvested each year and erected inside the building.

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