By Congressman Michael Turner
The holiday season is rich with traditions and ceremonies that carry with them a great deal of meaning for many Americans. Families gather together to celebrate the Christmas season and exchange gifts and lights, wreaths, and other holiday decorations appear on virtually every building and street corner. One of the most remarkable and famous holiday displays in the world occurs every year in the White House. Our community in Southwest Ohio was honored to participate in the process of decorating the White House for Christmas. Kelsey Danner of the Stivers School for the Arts created an ornament celebrating the history of our community that is currently hanging on the White House Christmas Tree.
Kelsey Danner is a talented young artist from the Miami Valley who is no stranger to having her work displayed in the Nation’s Capitol. Kelsey won first place in the 2008 Congressional Art Competition for the Third Congressional District of Ohio. A panel of experts from the art departments of area colleges, local non-profit organizations, and the Dayton Art Institute selected this year’s winning entries. As part of winning the competition, Kelsey accepted a $2,000 scholarship from the University of Dayton.
In addition, Kelsey won a trip to Washington, D.C. She attended a special celebration at the U.S. Capitol, where her artwork was displayed along with the winners from other congressional districts nationwide for one year. Her work was on display for a week in the Dayton Art Institute with the other competition entrants, giving the Miami Valley community an opportunity to walk through the museum and view all the entries in this year’s competition.
2008 was the first year that the Bush Administration asked Members of Congress to nominate a local artist from their community to produce an artistic ornament to display on the tree. After Kelsey won the Congressional Art Competition, she was a natural choice to design our community’s ornament to be displayed on the White House Christmas Tree. In addition to Kelsey Danner’s work, the Christmas tree is decorated with over 370 ornaments from Congressional districts around the country and features over 3,000 lights. The theme for Christmas decorations at the White House this year is “A Red, White, and Blue Christmas.”
The Miami Valley’s ornament is red, white, and blue and pays tribute to the rich aviation heritage of Southwest Ohio. The Wright Flyer, the pioneering aircraft designed by Dayton’s own Orville and Wilbur Wright, is also depicted on the side of the ornament. Those interested in viewing our community’s contribution to the White House Christmas Tree can visit the official website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/holiday/2008/ornamentsbystate/oh.html.
This time of year offers many opportunities to take part in meaningful holiday traditions. I encourage the residents of our community to visit the White House website and see first hand how a member of our community contributed to the Christmas celebrations taking place in our Nation’s Capitol.