Brian Miller of Dover was one of 175 volunteers chosen from applicants around the country to help create the 2022 edition of holiday cheer at the president’s home.
For 17 years, he’s interpreted children’s literature to decorate one of the Odessa houses for the holidays.
This year’s White House decor had a “We The People” theme.
Miller, who was an art teacher at Middletown High School for years, was assigned to the Blue Room, the site of the official White House tree.
The 18 1/2-foot concolor fire tree from Pennsylvania was tall enough to be wired into the space that usually holds the room’s chandelier, Miller said.
All the decor was designed before volunteers arrived.
He worked with a team that ranged from eight to 20 people to execute the bird-themed design for the tree.
“Some volunteers came just the first three days, some volunteers came only the last three days and some volunteers stayed the whole six days,” Miller said.
The tree included bird nests, bird houses and models of every state bird, including — naturally for the room — a blue hen from Delaware, as well as birds from six territories and D.C. itself.
“They were all handmade and beautifully done,” Miller said.
The volunteers never saw the designs on paper, but the designer was there at all times working with them.
“Some people were, say, painting things to go on the tree or assembling things to go on the tree and then others were putting them on the tree,” Miller said, “so it was a big team effort.”
He worked six days, heading to the White House at 7 a.m., where the volunteers were served a buffet breakfast in the State Dining Room. Lunch was also served there. The volunteers left about 5 p.m.
Miller said he was surprised at the sheer number of people involved and how well they worked together to decorate the 77 Christmas trees, multiple rooms and hallways, which included 25 wreaths and more than 83,615 lights.
He didn’t find anyone else from Delaware, and he wore a small Delaware pin on his apron so another First Stater could spot him.
He made it a point to circulate when possible, and the only states he couldn’t find a designer from were North and South Dakota, he said. It’s possible they just didn’t cross paths, he said.
Miller said the tree he helped decorate was his favorite.
“It was a tremendous honor and privilege to work on the official White House tree,” he said.
Miller also got a kick out of the China Room decorations, which included a garland made of handwritten recipes contributed by volunteers. He chose his wife’s recipe for Cheesy Chicken, a casserole that uses Swiss cheese.
All the volunteers joined Dr. Biden for the public unveiling Monday. She posed with the group for a photo.
Miller would like to be invited back to do it again.
“It was a great experience,” he said.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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