Obama lights national Christmas tree for the final time

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  • The event was filled with performances from artists such as James Taylor and Kelly Clarkson
  • The first lady also read to the audience the "Night Before Christmas" with Olympian Simone Manuel

(CNN)President Barack Obama -- joined by first lady Michelle Obama, daughter Sasha Obama and scores of celebrity guests -- rang in the holidays for the final time at the White House, lighting the National Christmas tree Thursday evening.

Obama in his final remarks at the tree lighting spoke of embracing a message of love and acceptance regardless of faith, race or background, during the holiday season.
    "It's a message of unity and a message of decency and a message of hope that never goes out of style. And it's one that we all need very much today," Obama said. "After eight years as your President I still believe that there is so much more that unites us then divides us."
    President Barack Obama hugs and a man dressed as Santa Claus during the National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse of the National Mall in Washington on December 1, 2016.
    Partaking for the final time, the Obama's enjoyed from the front row of the event holiday musical performances from James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, Marc Anthony, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
    Thursday's ceremony, emceed by actress and Obama supporter Eva Longoria, marked the 94th year of the tree lighting.
    The first lady also read to the audience the "Night Before Christmas" with Olympian Simone Manuel, who this summer became the first African American to win an individual Olympic gold in swimming.
    Obama helped close out the ceremony introducing Santa Claus and singing to Jingle Bells alongside the musical performers.