Nov. 28, 2007 — With the National Park Service the theme of this year's White House Christmas tree, two St. John artists — Elaine Estern and Kimberly Boulon — are in Washington, D.C., to see their ornaments depicting the two St. John park sites.
St. Croix artist Jan Mitchell didn't make the trip, but her ornaments for St. Croix's three park sites will also help decorate the tree.
All 391 national park facilities across the country were asked to submit ornaments with iconic images from that park.
"It's an honor that the president and the first lady have selected the National Park Service theme at the Christmas tree's Pageant of Peace," said Mark Hardgrove, who serves as superintendent of both St. John park facilities. It was particularly fitting because the White House is a National Park Service site, he said.
Estern painted the ornament that represents Coral Reef National Monument, and Boulon's ornament represents V.I. National Park.
"It's an underwater world," Estern said of her design. Because of the ornament's large size, the turtle on her design looks lifelike, she said.
Boulon called the Source Wednesday while at the White House reception for the artists who created the Christmas ornaments.
"The Christmas tree is gorgeous," she said, noting that she was standing under a painting of Abraham Lincoln. She said there was a huge buffet and everything was very festive.
First lady Laura Bush put in a brief appearance at the reception, Boulon said.
Mitchell's ornaments focus on Christiansted National Historic Site, Buck Island Reef National Monument and Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve. The Christiansted ornament has a sailboat and a fish in raised glass, with a painting of Fort Christiansvaern.
The Buck Island ornament has about 10 hawksbill turtles floating around a turquoise sea. The Salt River ornament features Indian sculptures.
"It was fun," Mitchell said. "They're really pretty cute."
Joel Tutein, superintendent at the three St. Croix parks, called it a very exciting event to have the ornaments hang on the White House Christmas tree.
All the artists were invited to bring a guest. Estern brought her daughter, Jacqueline Schutt, who lives in Orlando.
Boulon is accompanied by her husband, Rafe Boulon, who coincidently serves as chief of resources management for the park.
Several things kept Mitchell away from Washington: She has been to the White House before, it's cold there and this is a busy time for her. She's a glass artist who owns Mitchell-Larsen Studios in Christiansted.
The artists paid for their own transportation to Washington, D.C., and for their stay in the city, Estern said.
The artists were selected for the contest, she said.
"There was no contest," Estern said.
She and the Boulons started the trip together, but only got as far as Miami, when they had to split up because of flight delays in San Juan. Boulon said she'd see her at the White House.
"How often do you get to say that?" Estern said.
After Christmas, the ornaments will remain in the National Archives.
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