Reed shares decorating the White House at Rotary

Scott Reed, owner of Petal Pushers, was one of a team of decorators who transformed the White House during the Christmas season.
Staff Writer

Scott Reed, owner of Petal Pushers, was asked to speak at the West Point Rotary Club about his experience of being chosen to be a volunteer decorator at the White House during the Christmas season.

"It was a fantastic opportunity," Reed said. "I had learned about the volunteers who decorate the White House while George Bush was in office. I applied then and again while Barack Obama was president."
He said during the Obama administration, the policy changed and they did not allow volunteers to do the decorating.

"As soon as they called this election, I emailed the volunteer office at the White House," Reed said. "I knew it was way too soon, but I wanted to be considered. There are opportunities all through the year to volunteer. They have volunteers for Easter Egg roll, July 4, and other holidays."

He said there were 980 applicants and 150 would be chosen to be part of volunteer White House decorating teams.

Reed said he was told by email to apply in the fall, starting in September. He kept checking until in October he applied to volunteer and by the end of October he had an email announcing he had made it through the first round.

"I had made the short list," Reed said. "Then I got an email telling me I had been chosen to be on one of the teams and where and when to be in Washington D.C."

He said the first team was assigned to do the prep work. They had the decorations stored in a warehouse and they went through them preparing them for the White House.

"I was on the second team, we did the actual decorating," Reed said. "Everything in the rooms had to be removed before we began. All the rugs, portraits, paintings, everything was carefully removed and there were curators on hand at all times. If we needed a box, all we had to do was say we needed a box of a certain dimension, or a specific size table and it was brought to us. It doesn't work like that at Petal Pushers."

Reed said most of the decorators weren't there because of politics, it was not a political thing at all, but were there to be a part of the history of the White House. Reed said it made no difference who was occupying the White House, he was proud to be part of the history and the beauty of the Christmas season that goes on in Washington D.C. year after year.

"Everything about the White House at Christmas is meticulously documented," Reed said. "So I'm a part of that proud history. There were several decorators who had been part of the decoration teams for more than 20 years."

He said there was a man who was 93 years old, had been a part of decorating the White House for 37 years.

"We learned that during the early administrations, if the family occupying the White House, liked a particular piece of furniture or a painting, they would often take it with them," Reed said. "It wasn't until Jackie Kennedy was First Lady, that inventory began to be taken of the priceless things that adorn the White House. The the White House Historical Association began raising funds to enable new drapes, furnishings and other things to be purchased for the White House for upkeep."

Reed said he originally decided that this would be a once - in - a - lifetime thing. Being away from Petal Pushers during a very busy time of the year, put a lot of extra work on the staff.

"It's going to be hard not to apply again," Reed said. "It was just such a fantastic experience. I had taken a few hometown ornaments with me, that I had thought about sneaking onto one of the trees, Instead, I asked that they be given to Mrs. Trump with my compliments."

Reed said he was overwhelmed by the support and encouragement that he received from the community.

"It felt like I took a little bit of West Point with me," Reed said.