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December 19, 2012

Indiana woman helps decorate White House for holidays

PRINCE'S LAKES, Ind. — First lady Michelle Obama toured the private living quarters of the White House, inspecting this year's selection of holiday decorations.

Golden bows and ribbons were hung over doorways and mantles, and evergreen garlands arched over doorways. More than a dozen trees, some at least 20 feet high, were set up.

More than 70 volunteers, including Prince's Lakes resident Shari Koenes, worked hours decking the halls. Now they'd find out if their efforts were up to the standards of the first lady of the United States.

"They told us she didn't tweak anything, so we were tickled," Koenes told the Daily Journal. "She was obviously happy with what we did."

For the second year in a row, Koenes was one of the select design volunteers chosen to help decorate the White House for the holidays. She hung garland and ribbon in the Oval Office and the West Wing and set up trees in the Yellow Oval Room.

Most of the ornaments and evergreen placed in the Obamas' private residence were set in place by Koenes.

The volunteers had to work at a hectic pace and under intense pressure. But when the decorating was done, few things matched the sense of accomplishment in what they'd done.

"Your jaw drops. It's overwhelming at first. But you roll up your sleeves and get busy and hope it all gets done," Koenes said.

Every year, the first family chooses a theme for the White House decorations. This year's was "Joy to All."

The trees, ribbons and displays celebrate the many joys of the holiday season: the joy of giving and service to others, the joy of sharing blessings with one another and the joy of welcoming friends and families as guests into our homes over these next several weeks, according to a statement by Michelle Obama.

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