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Mrs. Parks goes to Washington

"I sort of took some poetic license," she said.

Parks and her husband, Robert, were invited to a reception at the White House Dec. 2. There, the couple were among those welcomed by First Lady Laura Bush, who briefly addressed the attendees before they were allowed to walk through portions of the presidential home and socialize.

"We were in there for two-and-a-half hours," said Parks. "It wasn't like, 'Okay, take a look at this and then on to the next thing.' It was very relaxed and they seemed just delighted to have us there."

While Parks' ornament could have become lost in a sea of ornaments that adorned the 20-foot tall tree - which, incidentally, touched the ceiling of the White House's Blue Room, she said - she was pleased with its placement.

"There were some that were way up there, but mine was right at eye level so you could read it, which was perfect," she said.

The Parkses were able to spend some time sightseeing while in Washington, visiting places such as the Botanical Gardens, the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the U.S. Capitol Building. The city was abuzz with anticipation for January's presidential inauguration of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, she said.

"We were told they're expecting 4 million people," she said. "All the hotels are doing major renovations. They just don't know how they're going to handle all the people."

The overall experience is one Parks said was the chance of a lifetime and was even more special because she went as a representative of the North Country.

"I was really honored to go," said Parks. "It's something we'll never forget."

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