New Castle News

Local News

December 19, 2012

Union Township native helps to decorate the White House

NEW CASTLE — There are some addresses that simply scream Christmas.

The North Pole.

Manger Square, Bethlehem.

Or, for New Castle native Nicole White, 1600 Pennsylania Ave. — at least, after she got done with it.

White, a Union High graduate and daughter of Eugene I. and Carol Barber (who still live in the township), was one of 67 volunteers chosen to decorate the White House for Christmas, following the theme of “Joy to All” chosen by first lady Michelle Obama.

According the White House Historical Association, first ladies have been charged with decorating the presidential mansion for Christmas since 1929. In 1961, Jackie Kennedy became the first to introduce an official theme to the process.

It’s not clear when the doors were opened to volunteers to help with the chore. One thing, though, is certain: It’s not an easy gig to get.

“You have to submit an application,” White said, “and there are thousands of applications from around the United States and everywhere else.

“And once you’re selected, you have to go through a rigorous background check and security screening. If you pass that, then you are extended an invitation to participate.”

For White, the opportunity to spend time inside the home of the president of the United States was especially sweet, since she’s been back in the country for four months. After college, she moved to Alaska, where she met her husband, James, — a tech sergeant in the Intelligence Career Field of the Air Force — in Alaska. Between living there and her husband’s overseas postings, she’s been out of the Lower 48 for 18 years.

Her time away, though, was well spent, at least in creating a strong resumé for a potential White House decorator.

“I did a lot of event planning while I was overseas — major events for international affairs” said White, who now lives in Maryland. “I did a planning symposium in Alaska — that’s considered international because we dealt a lot with Russia — and did events for military leaders in Portugal, the Middle East and Germany.

“I’ve always been a volunteer. It’s just something I like to do, to give my time. Since I don’t serve, I think it’s only fair that I give my time to the people who do — and what better place than the White House?”

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