Lots of folks aren’t seeing the light in Washington this week.
“During the federal government shutdown, the White House Visitor Center and National Christmas Tree site will be closed,” the National Park Service wrote on its website. “Restroom facilities will be closed.”
The tree, a massive Colorado blue spruce, was damaged Friday when a man in “emotional distress” tried to climb it, a park service spokesperson told The Hill. The shutdown has “complicated” repairs that would allow for the lights to be turned back on.
There was a flicker of hope that might happen. The National Park Foundation, a charity that supports the park service, was providing materials and labor to get the lights working, a park service spokeswoman told WTOP. The lights flickered on and off Sunday as workers assessed the damage.
The darkened tree, located on the Ellipse near the White House, adds a grinch-like note to the standoff between President Donald Trump and Congress over his demand for a $5 billion border wall. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, warned the shutdown could stretch into January.
President Calvin Coolidge began the National Christmas Tree tradition in 1923, when he lit a tree with 2,500 bulbs in red, white and blue, according to the park service.
Ninety-five years later, the prospects appear dim that the tree will be relighted in time for Christmas.
Talk about a dark moment in history.