It took two passes in a hydraulic lift, but First Lady Barbara Bush finally got close enough to the top of the national Christmas tree to crown it with a white plastic star Monday.
Mrs. Bush was joined on the somewhat bumpy journey in the hydraulic lift to the top of the 35-foot tree by her 3 1/2-year-old granddaughter, Marshall, daughter of son Marvin and his wife, Margaret, and by Joseph Riley, president of the Christmas Pageant of Peace.
The lift operator left the threesome a few feet short on his first attempt.
Mrs. Bush, who has been topping off the national Christmas tree every November since 1981, signaled to him to lift them higher, and on the second try she and Riley managed to get a silver pole holding the outsized plastic star in place.
Marshall, seasonally garbed in a bright red dress with a red ribbon in her hair, took it all in stride, waving to her mother and preschool classmates on the ground below.
When the ride downward was briefly halted, Marshall called out cheerfully, but insistently: "Hey, when are we going down? Get me down here."
"Perfect," pronounced Mrs. Bush as the white cage finally perched on terra firma. She took Marshall over to shake hands and pose for a picture with the lift operator, National Park Service tree worker Kevin Guard.
"I thought she was coming over to chew me out," Guard said. "She just said thanks."