Earlier this year, Cecilia Egdorf saw that the White House needed volunteers to decorate for the holiday season. Egdorf, who owns a landscaping business in Bigfork and knows a thing or two about decorating, decided to throw her hat into the ring.
After applying for the volunteer position, she didn’t think much of it until October when she received a phone call from an unlisted number. She picked up and the voice on the other end said they were with the White House and wanted to know why Egdorf had not responded to her invitation. Confused, Egdorf looked through her email and then checked her spam folder. And there it was: an invitation to be one of approximately 225 volunteers to decorate the White House.
Egdorf was elated, and a month later she was on her way to Washington D.C. for a week of decorating and sightseeing. While Egdorf was sure to visit the Smithsonian, Arlington National Cemetery and the many monuments that dot the nation’s capital, she said the most spectacular sight was the White House. While there, she saw George Washington’s sword and other historic items.
“Whether or not you care for the administration, to be in the White House and see all those artifacts and be surrounded by all that history is just breathtaking,” she said.
Egdorf spent three days decorating the White House and focused primarily on decorating trees in the East Room, the largest room in the executive mansion that is used for receptions and events. Every day started at 6 a.m. when Egdorf and her fellow volunteers were bused from their hotel to the White House. After getting through security, they were fed breakfast and then got to work. The volunteers only took a break for lunch and usually worked until 4 p.m.
Altogether, Egdorf and her fellow volunteers helped decorate the White House with approximately 20,000 feet of lights and 12,000 bows, along with thousands of ornaments and other decorative items.
During the course of the week she spotted a number of high profile White House occupants. She saw First Lady Melania Trump speak during a reception for volunteers. She was able to take a picture with presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway. And she briefly saw President Donald Trump through a window as he was walking to board Marine One.
Egdorf said her week in Washington D.C. was an unforgettable experience, and she is already planning on applying to volunteer again next year.
“It was a surreal experience,” she said.
All of Egdorf’s hard work will be on display during HGTV’s White House Christmas 2018, which premieres on Sunday, Dec. 9. Check for local listings.