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Obama lights National Christmas Tree

The Associated Press

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters Sasha, and Malia, and Michelle’s mother Marian Robinson, react as they light the National Christmas Tree during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at the Ellipse in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. On the far left on stage is actress Reese Witherspoon. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Associated Press

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has jumpstarted the holiday season by lighting the National Christmas tree.

Obama, his wife, Michelle, daughters Malia and Sasha, and his mother-in-law Marian Robinson together flipped a switch to light the tree.

The festive ceremony featuring a variety of musical performances is taking place under somber circumstances a day after the shooting deaths of 14 people in San Bernardino, California. In the backdrop of the ceremony, the U.S. flag flew at half-staff atop the White House on Obama’s orders in remembrance of the victims.

Thursday’s ceremony marked the 93rd annual lighting of the Christmas tree near the White House.

Actress Reese Witherspoon served as host. Musicians Crosby, Stills and Nash; Kelsea Ballerini; and Fall Out Boy performed.

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