Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

She Got to Decorate the White House for the Holidays

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

She Got to Decorate the White House for the Holidays

Article excerpt

The job involved no pay and a long drive, but interior designer Nancy Barsotti from Carnegie was delighted. She would be decorating the White House for Christmas.

Ms. Barsotti's journey to the White House began at age 12 when she visited with her father and sister. "We had our picture taken on the front steps of the north portico."

She volunteered as a floral designer last year but wasn't chosen. She was one of 89 designers selected this year to decorate the President's house.

Her duties started Thanksgiving night as she and the other designers met with Rafanelli Event Planners to discuss Michelle Obama's chosen theme, "A Timeless Tradition." Each room was to commemorate extraordinary events that shaped the country's history.

They prepared for two days and then spent three solid days working. The 15 spaces feature 62 Christmas trees and more than 70,000 ornaments. More than 68,000 guests from the around the world visit during the three-week season.

"I was assigned to the Blue Room," Ms. Barsotti said. "It is the most prestigious room and has the official White House Christmas tree."

The 18-foot Fraser fir grown by Jay and Glenn Bustard of Lansdale, Pa., was decorated in red, white and blue.

"It was early Sunday morning. I was up on scaffolding putting on the star garland when it started to pull apart. We had to improvise."

The tree's most poignant ornaments are messages for American troops from their families, written in calligraphy on ribbon. After the holiday, the messages will be framed and sent to the families with gratitude for their sacrifice.

Ms. Barsotti was also asked to work on wreaths for the Queens' Sitting Room, the East Landing and the chief usher's office off the foyer. "The event planners were very complimentary. I was so humbled," she said.

The State Dining Room features a gingerbread house that weighs almost 500 pounds and has more than 25 pounds of icing. The East and West wings were added for the first time. …

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