President Joe Biden and rapper LL Cool J on Thursday presided over the lighting of the National Christmas Tree just south of the White House.
“Is everybody having a good time so far? Well let’s kick off the evening by lighting up the star of the show, the National Christmas Tree,” Biden said. “Let’s count down.”
Biden and Cool J, 53, led a countdown from five before the president took his seat for a performance by singer Billy Porter.
It’s unclear how LL Cool J, who was popular in the 1990s, was selected to emcee the festivities.
Cool J made a crack about the COVID-19 pandemic to Biden, saying, “For our safety, I am going to stand over here and social distance. I don’t want to cough on you.”
Other famous attendees included actress Kristin Chenoweth, who played a deputy White House press secretary in “The West Wing.” She warmed up the crowd by singing “The Man With The Bag.”
Vice President Kamala Harris joined the event after a day trip to Charlotte, NC., with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg following reported tensions between the possible rivals to succeed Biden as the Democratic nominee 2024.
The tree lighting event featured a substantial group of spectators including members of Congress. Last year, the outdoor event was pared down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then-President Donald Trump did a countdown from the distant White House balcony.
Biden and Harris on Wednesday hosted an unusually “packed” Hannukah celebration in the White House East Room. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff is the first Jewish spouse of a president or vice president.