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Al Nielsen looking through his collection of National Christmas Tree photos.

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Capturing 50 Years of Christmas History

Springfield resident Al Nielsen has photographed the National Christmas Tree every year since 1963.

In December 1963, Al Nielsen drove his wife and four children to Washington, D.C. to see the National Christmas Tree, a red spruce from West Virginia. That year, the lighting of the tree was delayed due to the mourning period following the assassination of President Kennedy. Being without a tripod, Nielsen placed his camera atop his car and captured the first photo of what would become a long-standing annual tradition. Now 90-years-old, Nielsen recently photographed the 2012 National Christmas Tree, making this the 50th consecutive year that he has captured history in the nation’s capital.


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