Lafayette Gold Star Mother helps decorate the White House for Christmas

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LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WTHR) – Christmas decorations at the White House took a hit on social media this year.

Some people loved them.

Some people ridiculed them.

Dana Vann got a special apron while helping decorate the White House for the holidays. (WTHR Photo: Jennie Runevitch)

But no matter what you think about the design, you can be proud that some Hoosiers helped with the holiday decor.

That included a Gold Star Mother from Lafayette selected for the big job.

Walk into her home and it's clear Dana Vann loves to decorate for the holidays.

"We have three Christmas trees that we put up," Vann said. "A sports theme, a military theme and a third tree. I love Christmas, yeah. Both my husband and I love to decorate."

That’s why this Lafayette Gold Star mom, whose son died serving our country, applied to get the chance to help decorate a much bigger house in our nation's capital.

"You almost have to write a resume! I told them I love Christmas. I love Christmas decorating,” Vann said. "I’m a very patriotic person and pick me, pick me!"

They did.

Out of 7,000 applicants, Dana was one of nearly 200 people chosen to help decorate the White House this year.

"I did work in a flower shop and being a Gold Star parent I think those kind of helped," Vann said.

She spent six days and more than 60 hours around Thanksgiving making Melania Trump's holiday vision a reality along the East Colonnade. She got a green volunteer apron and a name tag for team "Berry".

"I was on the berry tree assignment. It was a huge job," said Vann.

"We had six, eight berries at a time, little sprigs and they’re all individually pinned into those Styrofoam cones to make those berry trees," Vann explained. "We went through 75 pounds of floral pins. A lot of people ended up with lots of Band-Aids and taping their fingers. Mine held out, but it was a lot of work and they were pretty hard to get in there."

The crimson trees she helped create got some criticism on social media with some people mocking the motif.

That strong reaction surprised Vann, who said in person, the trees are beautiful.

"I say to people unless you’ve seen it, you don’t realize how beautiful they really are and not only a lot of work went into them but they are very pretty," she said.

She says regardless of personal taste, representing Hoosiers as part of holiday tradition in Washington, D.C. was a special experience she'll never forget.

"You start walking around and really feel where you are. You know, for awhile it’s just decorating. It’s just like a decorating a home and then all of a sudden it really dawns on you the history of the building and all the world leaders that have been there and I just really tried to soak all that in too," Vann said.

(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)
(Photo: Dana Vann)

When the decorating was complete, all the volunteers had a luncheon where First Lady Melania Trump thanked them for all their hard work. Vann says this whole experience was an honor.

This is not Dana Vann's first trip to the White House. She had breakfast with the Obamas as part of a group of Gold Star mothers. She was also the coordinator for the former Lafayette Honor Flight and made regular trips to Washington, taking veterans to see the memorials built in their honor.

Vann is leaving for Maine on Thursday to participate in the Wreaths Across America project. That trip culminates at Arlington National Cemetery, where they’ll place wreaths on veterans’ graves.