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Courtesy photo / Michele Winkler Kennedy stands in front of the Gold Star Christmas tree she helped decorate which features iPads for sending holiday messages to troops stationed overseas.

Michele Winkler Kennedy has never been paid for her design services, but her love for decorating is obvious when you walk into her Beverly Hills neighborhood home in Altoona. That is why for years she tried to get on the volunteer holiday decorating team at the White House.

Kennedy spent Thanksgiving weekend in the nation capital gussying up the presidential residence for this holiday season. today.

were many of us without professional experience, and I do like to decorate, Kennedy said. just enjoy it. I find it relaxing and rewarding. her husband, Walt, said of his wife latest exploits, was a once in a lifetime experience. a week after she had returned home from the whirlwind four days in the capital, Kennedy still was overcome with emotion at the thought of what she had done.

had the run of the East Wing, she said. was incredible. I done the official tours, and you stay right on a path. But when we were decorating, we could go almost anywhere, and I would get chills when I stop and realize where I was.

have them now, she said, rubbing her arm and fighting back tears while sitting at her dining table.

Kennedy remembered taking a break that Sunday to eat lunch in the State Dining Room and looking up at President Lincoln portrait.

think about all these people who have been here, Kennedy said, her eyes still red rimmed. was so nice. I made so many friends. them were volunteers who came from 29 states and worked at the behest of a team of White House designers selected and directed by First Lady Melania Trump. They decorated 53 real Christmas trees with more than 12,000 ornaments, 18,000 feet of Christmas lights, 71 wreaths and a 350 pound Gingerbread house in the likeness of the White House.

Mrs. territory. She also continued a 45 year old custom of displaying the White House Creche, an 18th century terra cotta and wood nativity scene in the East Room.

But Mrs. Trump also put her own stamp on the affair with new ideas: Wreaths hang from the exterior of every window and wintry branches line an East Wing hallway that leads to a tree decorated with the Trump family official Christmas ornament. every day. But it was rewarding, Kennedy said.

worked 10 to 12 hours a day, she said. all felt a sense of honor and gratitude to be able to serve in this way. worked alongside military spouses, veterans and Gold Star families who lost a member in battle.

was very emotional, Kennedy said more than once.

That Friday her first day volunteers were ushered into the Theater Room, given packets of information,
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introduced to Mrs. Trump designer, met other leaders and divided into teams of 10 or 12.

were in the room where the first family watches movies, Kennedy said, excitedly.

She was placed on Team Rudolph, along with others from South Dakota, Arkansas, Florida, New Jersey and Kentucky, as well as Harrisburg.

The team reported to the Green Room to receive its assignments: the East Entry, the East Colonnade, the first family tree and the Gold Star tree.

She was handed a spool of red ribbon about 6 inches wide and 25 yards long and was instructed to make two bows from it. She asked for a measuring tape, but there wasn one.

I standing there using my arms to measure and down the hall comes the HGTV crew with cameras rolling, she said.

Kennedy said she doesn know if she will appear in tonight show, but a snippet of her unraveling the red ribbon was part of a trailer the network put on its Facebook page promoting the show.

She said the White House florist assisted her in making bows to put on the wreaths of the East Entry. Her group also made and hung garlands from live greenery.

decorated four times before the designer finally approved, because plans kept changing, Kennedy said with a smile.

She said it took a day and a half to wrap the lights on the first family tree, which also was decorated with octopus bows that her group made. Additionally, they hung 50 of the first family official ornament on the tree that stands at the end of the East Colonnade.

In that long hallway, volunteers opened up dozens of boxes filled with white birch branches that had been sprinkled with glitter, Kennedy said.

had to unpack them and fluff out all the branches and line them in the colonnade, she said.

Kennedy recalled that a small bird nest fell out of one of the Christmas trees, and she volunteered to take it.

will do something with that, she said, referring to her decorating skills at home.

Kennedy said she wrapped wire around countless pine cones, dogwood branches and oak leaves. Sometimes, she just cleaned an area.
cheap authentic yankee jerseys Altoona woman helps spruce up the White House for the holidays