Lottery for National Christmas Tree lighting tickets open through Sunday

The National Christmas Tree in 2009

Tickets for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree will be distributed through an online lottery system starting today, offering a lucky selected few the ability to see the national holiday symbol come to life during the Dec. 9 ceremony.

The 13,000 free tickets will be distributed through an online lottery between Nov. 5 and Nov. 7.

Of the 13,000 tickets, 3,000 will be for seats, and 10,000 for standing-room only space on the Ellipse, located just south of the White House.

Tickets can also be requested via telephone by calling (877)444-6777 or for TDD (877)833-6777.

Applicants can check to see if they won tickets beginning Nov. 10 online or through the call center.

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and first daughters Sasha and Malia will help light a large Christmas tree on the Ellipse after the event begins at 5 p.m.

NBC 4 announced Thursday night that B.D. King, Maroon 5 and Sara Bareilles will join the first family for the celebration. Last year, performers included Sheryl Crow, Common and Ray LaMontagne.

The traditional tree lighting began in 1923 with President Calvin Coolidge’s administration.

Like last year, energy-efficient light bulbs from General Electric will adorn the tree, marking GE’s 49th consecutive year decorating the national tree, according to the National Christmas Tree’s website.

Along with the main tree, 56 smaller trees will be set up to form the “Christmas Pathway of Peace.” The trees represent all 50 states, five territories and D.C.

The National Menorah will also be part of the display on the Ellipse. In celebration of Chanukah, the lighting of the menorah will occur Dec. 1 at 4 p.m.

The United States Navy Band and the group “The Three Cantors” are set to perform. Food and games will also be part of the event.

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