laine christmas

Laine Hardy, "American Idol" 2019 winner, Livingston

Louisiana country singer Laine Hardy will sing for the virtual 98th National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Thursday.

The ceremony will be available to watch on-demand at thenationaltree.org starting at 4 p.m., and throughout the holiday season.

Normally this is an in-person celebration at the White House hosted by the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service. Due to COVID-19-related public health concerns, there was no live audience when President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump actually lit the 30-foot Colorado blue spruce on Monday at President's Park.

Footage from the lighting will be part of the virtual ceremony, which will also feature performances from Livingston native and "American Idol" 2019 winner Hardy, pop artist and "American Idol" finalist Colton Dixon, country singer/songwriter Jerrod Niemann, country artist Jillian Cardarelli, singer/songwriter Jillian Edwards, country music singer/songwriter and actress Kellie Pickler, country band Leaving Austin, award-winning gospel artist Lynda Randle and her brother, Michael Tait, lead vocalist of the Newsboys; singer/songwriter Matthew West, Passion featuring Melodie Malone, the National Park Service Arrowhead Jazz Band, the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, the U.S. Navy’s official chorus, The Sea Chanters; and “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. 

"Christmas is almost here," Hardy said in a Facebook video earlier this week. "Don't miss my performance on this year's National Tree Lighting. … I'll see you there."

Twenty-year-old Hardy recently released his version of the 1960 Charles Brown classic "Please Come Home for Christmas," saying he grew up listening to the Eagles' 1978 version of the tune.

"Visitors to Washington, D.C. can view the National Christmas Tree and the 56 state, district and territory trees and their ornaments up close daily from Dec. 1 through Jan. 1, 2021," according to the National Park website.

The first National Tree lighting took place on Christmas Eve 1923, "when President Calvin Coolidge walked from the Oval Office to the Ellipse and pushed a button that lit the first National Christmas Tree. It was a 48-foot balsam fir donated by Middlebury College in Vermont. Since 1973, the National Christmas Tree has been a living tree which can be viewed year-round in President’s Park," the website also states. 

Email Judy Bergeron at jbergeron@theadvocate.com.