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Baton Rouge designer among dozens selected to decorate White House for Christmas

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WASHINGTON - Dozens of trees, hundreds of feet of garland, and too many lights to count were unveiled Monday at The White House as part of the 2020 Christmas display.

A Baton Rouge designer was among the dozens of volunteers who brought the theme, "America the Beautiful" to life.

"I didn't know that it was something you could apply for," Shane Griffin said.

Griffin has spent the better part of the last week doing what he normally does this time of year, decorating for the holiday season. However, this time it wasn't a Baton Rouge home that served as his canvas, but rather the executive mansion.

"I think they received around 9,000 to 10,000 applications," said Griffin, who applied after a suggestion from a friend. "I think this year maybe there was about 75, 80 of us."

Griffin, along with his family, made the trip to D.C. the week of Thanksgiving, ahead of three days of service at The White House. Following a pre-dawn wake-up call and a negative COVID-19 test, it was time to get to work.

"[There were] Secret service everywhere," Griffin said. "They had Christmas music playing throughout the grand foyer, and just up on ladders, doing the trees, with all the history, it was surreal."

Griffin put up lights, spent hours making garland for The Green Room and decorated a tree honoring gold star families. Each task, from tying bows on every ornament, to placing pine cones in the perfect spot, required precision and patience.

"Those trees took multiple days to light," Griffin said. "You have to wrap each branch, they want to see no wires. It's very meticulous."

Griffin returned to The White House Monday to see the fruits of his, and many others' labor, for a private reception unveiling this year's decor, which included an appearance from First Lady Melania Trump.

Now back in Baton Rouge, Griffin is fully booked with clients for the next several weeks. He'd had to clear his schedule for the trip to Washington.

It's an opportunity, he said, he will remember long after the ornaments are packed up and the lights are turned out.

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