- The 16 foot tree includes over 18,000 lights, cut-outs of Vice President-elect Harris and President-elect Joe Biden, American flags, pairs of Biden’s favorite aviator sunglasses.
Vice President-elect Kamala Devi Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff visited Floriana, a 41-year-old pasta restaurant in Washington, D.C’s Dupont Circle neighborhood on Jan. 4. But apart from chatting with the restaurant owners and picking up takeout, the soon-to-be second couple visited the restaurant’s outdoor Christmas tree which is decided to Harris.
The 16 foot “Kamala La La La Tree” includes over 18,000 lights, cut-outs of Harris and President-elect Joe Biden, American flags, pairs of Biden’s favorite aviator sunglasses, mailboxes and first lady Melania Trump’s ‘Be Best’ ornaments. Along with the Christmas tree, photos of Harris have covered the outdoor dining tents at the restaurant since November.
A video posted on Harris’ Facebook page shows her husband taking a selfie of the two along with Jaimie and Jenny Branda, the owners of Floriana restaurant and bar manager Dito Sevilla, who designed the Christmas tree.
Sevilla told the Washington Blade that he chose Harris because “she’s the perfect, most inspiring, most beloved and anticipated theme I will have ever done. This is the 2016 victory we deserved, this is the celebration and elation after four years of embarrassment and lies. This is, dare I say, a personal love letter to every single woman of color to whom this country and the Democratic party owe a gigantic amount of gratitude. I am honored to be able to share this tribute with the neighborhood and remind everyone who won November 3, 2020.”
Sevilla told the Blade that he chooses the theme and decorates Floriana’s 17th Street Community Christmas Tree every year. “Every year since 2012 I decided to label the tree the ‘Official Dupont Circle Holliday Tree,” Sevilla told the Blade. “Each year I select an ‘angel’ / spirit animal / muse / theme which celebrates culture and when possible that angel is a woman who has changed history.”
In 2018, the tree paid an homage to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who was about to be sworn-in for a third term as speaker. Like Harris, Pelosi also also went to the restaurant to see her “Pelostree.”
Videos posted on Twitter by the Associated Press, The Hill, the Washington Blade and other media outlets show Harris and Emhoff walk to the restaurant premises wearing black masks. Harris stops to chat with reporters about various issues including the upcoming Jan. 6 ratification of the Electoral College count. “Let me just tell you something. We’re going to be inaugurated, period,” she said. Stressing that she and Biden were “Committed to working with all leaders,” she highlighted the importance of supporting “small businesses, and to get them back open,” as well as the importance of getting vaccine distribution ironed out.
Floriana owner Jamie Branda told Eater magazine that the restaurant received less than an hour of advance notice that Harris would be visiting the restaurant. “The vice president-elect specifically asked after our staff and wanted to make sure they were getting through all of the current troubles,” he said. “We also discussed cooking and how families have had their mealtimes shifted with work and school from home. It sounds like the second gentleman makes a good chicken. I offered him some shifts in our kitchen.”
Videos of Harris show her chatting with the restaurant owners and asking about their staff. “It’s a rough time,” Harris said. “We’ve just got to get out the other end of it,” she said. “Our small businesses have really been hurting across the country so we want to come out and just celebrate them and encourage everyone to support our small business until we get through this.”