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It's a White (House) Christmas for Alverton native

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By Amanda Dolasinski

Published: Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, 7:47 p.m.

It took seven years, but Carol Show finally got her Christmas wish.The former Westmoreland County resident tirelessly wrote letters to the White House pleading for one of the coveted volunteer decorator positions. This year, she ripped open her acceptance letter in the hallway of the Virginia high school where she teaches early childhood education and interior design.

“I got a letter from the White House, and I knew,” said Show, who grew up in Alverton, East Huntingdon. “I started to scream. I ran out in the hall and told all the other teachers.”

Show was one of 85 volunteers from 39 states who spent five days decorating the White House, according to its official website. Volunteers completed a variety of important decorating tasks — from stringing 20,000 pompoms together to create a giant Bo statue for the East Garden room to hand making ornaments for 54 trees around the complex.

This year's decorations pay tribute to the armed forces and their families.

Show — her husband, Chaplain Col. Stephen Show, a Mt. Pleasant native, is stationed at the Pentagon — was assigned to work in the Blue Room on the State Floor. The room displays the White House Christmas tree, an 181⁄2-foot Fraser fir from North Carolina.

The “Joining Forces” tree is decorated to honor the service of troops, veterans and military families. Children living on U.S. military bases all over the world created one-of-a-kind ornaments to honor their parents' commitment to service.

Scaffolding and ladders butted up against the tree as volunteers revamped ornaments from past years and handcrafted new materials into stars and bows in radiant blue hues.

“I guess I never realized how many people loved to decorate out there,” Show said. “It was so interesting how they would debate over the placement of one ornament.”

It took the volunteers about two days to complete the decorations in the Blue Room, where formal receptions traditionally are held.“I would stand at the window, and I found myself contemplating where to put an ornament,” Show said. “It was overwhelming to be standing where so much history has transpired.”

Show next headed to the East Room, which was used as a laundry room for Abigail Adams in the early 1800s, but is now a formal entertainment room. Volunteers tackled four trees and fireplaces in the room.

About 900,000 visitors are expected to tour the White House this season, getting a glimpse of eight rooms decorated by the volunteers, Show said.First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a reception on the final night of the decorating spree.

Show was accompanied by her husband and her mother Betty Claycomb of Alverton, who writes the Trib Total Media Busy Bee recipe column. “Mrs. Obama was greeting and meeting volunteers,” she said. “And we got to see Bo.”

Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or



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