Olympic National Park landscape architect's ornament hangs on White House tree
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Olympic National Park landscape architect Jack Galloway holds the ornament he painted, which now adorns the official White House Christmas Tree. -- Olympic National Park photo

Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK - Jack Galloway's three-dimensional, hand-painted depiction of the park he has worked in for 17 years is hanging on the official White House Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C.

It's the local representative on a tree that is decorated with ornaments from all the nation's national parks - a motif chosen by first lady Laura Bush, a self-professed national park fan.

Galloway, a landscape architect for Olympic National Park, and his wife, Anna Manildi, executive director of the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts, attended a White House reception Wednesday hosted by the first lady, who hiked in Olympic National Park in July 2003.

The reception for some 600 to 700 people included designers of the 347 national park ornaments on the 18-foot Fraser fir in the Blue Room in the East Wing.

"We were made to feel very special," Galloway said Friday, the day he and Manildi returned to Port Angeles.

"It was quite a thing to see unfold."

The ONP ornament - glowing with blue, green and orange - hangs on the southeast bottom of the tree, just above the floor.

National park theme
The White House has been transformed into a winter tribute to national parks, its rooms embellished with gold aspen leaves and acorns attached to 862 feet of green garland hung over mantels and entryways.

The first lady welcomed reporters to the White House's East Room on Thursday to unveil this year's holiday theme, "Holiday in the National Parks."

Laura Bush has a particular fondness for national parks.

Every year, Bush and her closest friends hike in at least one national park.

"I feel like Olympic National Park is a well-kept secret," Mrs. Bush said a day after she departed Port Angeles from a weeklong hiking vacation in the park in 2003.

"We want all the rest of the United States to know how beautiful Olympic National Park is."

The six rooms on the White House's State Floor this year are all elaborately decorated with floral arrangements, Christmas trees and amber lights.

Hundreds of individual ornaments festoon both public and private rooms, including a model of North Carolina's Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and a painting of Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park.

HGTV will air its annual holiday special, featuring a visit with the first family in "White House Christmas 2007," premiering Dec. 16 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.

The half-hour program takes viewers inside the president's residence to see how dozens of decorators, bakers and volunteers bedeck the "people's house" for the holidays.

'Three parks in one'
Since Galloway began work for the park in 1990, he had thought about how to make a logo that would incorporate the three major aspects of the park: mountains, rain forest and the Pacific shores.

"It's difficult since it's three parks in one," he said.

He got his chance to try out his ideas when the park asked employees for designs for a Christmas ornament for this year's White House theme of "Holiday in the National Parks."

Galloway isn't sure how many people submitted ideas. All he knows is that his was chosen to represent Olympic on the White House tree.

He had about four days to paint the golden plastic ornament with acrylics before it had to be sent off to meet an Oct. 1 deadline.

"It was long enough," he said.

"You can overwork things."

He fit a lot of ideas on the orb, which is six inches in diameter.

The bottom of the globe is blue ocean, with stylized waves.

Around the equator is a river, sandwiched between forest.

On the top, Galloway painted snow-covered peaks with a yellow-orange sunset.

Salmon swim in the water. Elk cavort in the forest. And the ocean even has a canoe depicting the annual paddle journeys of the native tribes.

"This was all tiny stuff," Galloway said.

But overall, "it had a lot of contrast, so it looked good from a distance."

Said Olympic National Park Superintendent Bill Laitner:

"Jack's creative genius and technical skill came together to produce an ornament that beautifully represents Olympic's varied resources."

An artist's plans
Galloway, 60, plans a second career as an artist after his retirement from the park in February.

He has a studio set up at his home to pursue oil painting and ceramics.

"I took a ceramics class at Peninsula College about five to 10 years ago. I want to learn more about that," he said.

"It's going to be a learning process that I'll enjoy a lot."

Galloway's fingerprints are all over the park.

"I've worked on a wide range of projects," he said.

The most recent project he managed was the installation of a bridge on a new route to the Upper Queets Valley.

A major landslide at milepost 8 permanently closed the Queets road about a year and half ago, and a new route was devised using Forest Service and state Department of Natural Resources roads.

A 35-foot bridge was installed just about a month ago, Galloway said, but the route won't open until early spring.

Galloway oversaw the planning and landscaping for an Ozette area ranger housing project that includes a new ranger residence and an eight-person dormitory for seasonal workers.

The landscaping was finished in the fall, he said.

He has served as the point of contact with the Federal Highway Administration, which is constructing a permanent two-lane bridge over the West Twin Creek on the Upper Hoh Road.

The road was washed out during the Nov. 6, 2006, storm.

A temporary one-lane bridge was put into place over the 75-foot-long washout in December, and the road was reopened on May 1.

The permanent bridge is expected to be installed in February.

Galloway also designed the Living Forest Trail at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center at 3002 Mount Angeles Road in Port Angeles.

The half-mile loop, built to be accessible for those in wheelchairs or for those who have difficulty walking down steep slopes, was dedicated in 1998, when Michael Smithson, a National Park Service employee who was paralyzed from the waist down after falling out of a tree, cut the ribbon for the trail.

Memories of visit
This weekend, Galloway and Manildi were still excited about their park-paid trip to the nation's capitol.

"The White House reception. . . was really quite glamorous and beautiful," Manildi said.

"It was quite dazzling, and the people were so nice. You expected it to be stuffy, but it wasn't."

Although they didn't see the first lady in the crowded reception, they enjoyed the decorations - which included models of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Statue of Liberty - and the tour of the East Wing.

Galloway, accustomed to open space in the wild, also enjoyed the experience of urban open space as they toured the city.

"That huge outdoor space between the between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial - there's nothing like it except for being in Paris.

"The urban out-of-doors, huge public spaces - it was just a real privilege."

Galloway came to the North Olympic Peninsula from the National Park Service's Southwest Regional Office in Santa Fe, N.M.

He and Manildi have two sons: Mark, who lives in Vancouver, Wash., and Dan, who lives in Seattle.

Last modified: December 01. 2007 9:00PM
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