“Karry” and “Dempsey” with driver, Scott Harmon
A matching team of Belgian horses delivered the official White House Christmas tree to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday, Nov. 26, to kick off the holiday season in the nation’s capitol.
The 20-foot-high Fraser Fir was delivered on a four-wheeled wagon driven by Scott Harmon of Meadow Acres Farm in Brandy Station, North Carolina.
Midge Harmon’s team of Belgian draft horses, “Karry” and “Dempsey”, and her son Scott personally carted the 20-foot Frazier fir tree from a drop-point downtown to the White House.
This is the first time Harmon’s horses have been invited to deliver the official White House Christmas Tree.
“What an honor this was,” Midge Harmon said. “This is probably the biggest thing for a team of horses to be invited to do. I’m really proud and it was always a dream of my (late) husband”.
Harmon’s horses were selected by the White House to deliver the tree earlier this year after they provided hayrides for a congressional picnic on the White House grounds.
In the past, Oxen Hill Farm has traditionally handled the White House Christmas tree procession. However, this year they were not available.
Since the Harmons have trained Oxen Hill drivers and horses for the past 25 years, it turned to the Harmons to pull its wagon this year.
In preparing “Karry” and “Dempsey” for delivery of the White House Christmas tree, the horses were washed and braided and turned out in full formal harness.
The manes were braided with green and red “flags” that rise above a French braid along the crest of the neck, and the tails were done up in a “Scotch knot.”
Midge Harmon adorns Belgian draft “Kerry”
after braiding the mane.
The harness were outfitted with sleigh bells, and the black harness itself was polished and every brass buckle shined.
The Fraser Fir tree, so huge that it spilled off the wagon front and back, was bedecked with a big red, white and blue bow. The tree was a gift from Mistletoe Meadows Christmas Tree Farm in Laurel Springs, North Carolina.
As Laura Bush stepped onto the Portico to accept the special delivery she said, “We’re thrilled that this beautiful tree…is going to be here in the Blue Room.
As Bush admired the 19-year-old evergreen, Karry and Dempsey waited patiently behind her, nonplussed by photographers’ flashbulbs and television lighting.
“They’re used to all the excitement,” Midge Harmon said of Karry and Dempsey.
The business provides wedding carriages, festive hayrides and town festival entertainment, and all the farm’s horses are quite serene, even in the excitement of a city street. “They know their job,” she added.
As soon as Bush and Mistletoe Farm owners Linda Jones and Joe Freeman stepped away from the wagon, Midge Harmon stepped in with teamster David Yauch and daughter-in-law Susan Harmon to unhitch Karry and Dempsey from the wagon.
Shafts unhooked, Scott Harmon urged the pair forward, leaving the wagon and tree for White House staff to unload, and returned to the Harmon horse trailer parked a few blocks away from the White House.
The tree had been shipped from North Carolina via flatbed trailer.
Harmon and his horses met the truck to make the “old-fashioned” delivery, far more romantic, Harmon said, than having a tractor-trailer pull up to the presidential residence.
Midge Harmon, with her family, grandchildren
and Scott Harmon attending the Belgian Team.
Harmon’s Hayrides has been in operation for 37 years, first in Centreville, and for the past four years in Brandy Station. Harmon owns five teams of Belgian horses, providing hayrides for up to 120 guests at a time and formal carriages for weddings and other events.
Midge Harmon said that all five of the teams will be hard at work to kick off the Christmas season.
The tradition of placing a decorated tree in the White House began in 1889 during the presidency of Benjamin Harrison.
Link: Harmon’s Belgians
Photographic Credits: Chris Greenberg, Joyce N. Boghosian, Katie Dolac, Scott Harmon