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Strong winds topple National Christmas Tree

WASHINGTON - The National Christmas Tree is no more.

The Colorado blue spruce that stood on the Ellipse south of the White House since 1978 was toppled Saturday morning by heavy winds. By the afternoon, the 42-foot tree was ground into mulch.

National Park Service spokesman Bill Line noted the tree was exposed to the elements because it stood alone on the Ellipse. It was donated by a couple from York, Pa.

Line says the park service already has a replacement picked out. He wouldn't reveal the source of the new tree but says it will be moved and planted on the Ellipse sometime this spring.

President Calvin Coolidge lit the first National Christmas Tree in 1923. It is separate from the White House Christmas tree, which is harvested each year and set up inside.

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