12:30 A.M. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have returned to Mar-a-Lago.
12:17 A.M. The service has ended, and the president and first lady are preparing to return to Mar-a-Lago.
11:08 P.M. After 30 minutes of music, the service began promptly at 11.
Pockets of people - around 100 total - lined South Ocean Avenue to watch the motorcade. Most were not holding signs. They had phone cameras to capture the encounter.
One man held a sign that said Impeach with a picture of a peach. Others waved and smiled at the motorcade.
Before Trump arrived, the minister, the Rev. James Harlan, asked the congregation to put away their phones and cameras, calling them an intrusion.
He asked the audience to look for Jesus in the poor and in nature.
“We are here to worship,” Harlan told the congregation, which appeared to be full.
President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania Trump are greeted by stand ovation and cheers upon their arrival to attend Christmas Eve church services, tonight, at The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida. #ChristmasEve2017 pic.twitter.com/DwKVMZtnvn— Dan Scavino Jr. (@Scavino45) December 25, 2017
A few minutes earlier, the Mar-a-Lago Christmas Eve menu was released:
Turkey, beef tenderloin, cornbread, creamy kale, popovers, mashed potatoes and turkey gravy, various local vegetable dishes, a seafood display including local fish and shellfish, and a variety of desserts.
10:40 P.M. The president’s motorcade has arrived at Bethesda-by-the-Sea. The congregation erupted into sustained applause just now.
10:32 P.M. The Christmas Eve service has begun. You can watch the live stream here. http://www.bbts.org/worship/live-streaming/
10 P.M. Presumably, before the president departs Mar-a-Lago for church, he tweeted about his role as a champion of the phrase “Merry Christmas.”
People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again. I am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 25, 2017
9:30 P.M. The attention shifts to Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church on Palm Beach as preparations for Christmas Eve service near completion. The church is about three miles north of Mar-a-Lago.
#trumpinpalmbeach A police officer is posted at each entrance. A helicopter is circling above Church of Bethesda-By-The-Sea. Police are walking along sidewalks checking cars and onlookers as the 10:30 pm arrival time approaches for Pres. Trump and family pic.twitter.com/MPjTMSdcoA— Bill DiPaolo (@billdipaolo) December 25, 2017
#trumpinpalmbeach The line has grown to about 150 to get into Church of Bethesda-By-The-Sea in Palm Beach for the Sunday 10:30 pm service Pres. Trump and family plan to attend. Those attending must go thru metal detectors. pic.twitter.com/StMUFEmdEu— Bill DiPaolo (@billdipaolo) December 25, 2017
8:25 P.M. The Christmas Eve festivities are well-underway at Mar-a-Lago as Donald Trump Jr. posted this family photo on Instagram.
8 P.M. The first family will follow their tradition of attending Christmas Eve services at Palm Beach’s Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.
The service begins at 10:30 p.m. and a metal detector has been set up outside the church.
#TrumpInPalmBeach Main entrance to Bethesda-By-The -Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach. Pres. Donald Trump and his family are expected to attend services here tonight, Sunday, in Palm Beach. pic.twitter.com/9E1nI5oTWU— Bill DiPaolo (@billdipaolo) December 24, 2017
Meanwhile, the Palm Beach Daily News’ Shannon Donnelly is reporting from inside Mar-a-Lago that the evening scene is in full swing.
The Mar-a-Lago Club's ballroom stage all done up on its Christmas Eve finery pic.twitter.com/UhfTrwDbcy— Shannon Donnelly (@pbdnsociety) December 25, 2017
No budget cutting at the Mar-a-Lago Club's Christmas Eve buffet pic.twitter.com/BijZfgm1K8— Shannon Donnelly (@pbdnsociety) December 25, 2017
5 P.M. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump spent some time this afternoon in the living room at Mar-a-Lago taking telephone calls from children who called NORAD’s Track Santa program.
The children were not aware they would be talking to the first family.
"Santa is going to treat you well," the president told a child. "Very well. The best he's ever treated you."
The first lady, wearing a red dress and white heels with a floral print, spoke quietly into the phone, smiling and nodding as she listened to children on the other line.
“How are you? Merry Christmas. Are you tracking Santa? Do you know where he is right now?” she asked.
She asked the children whether they made their lists and assured them that Santa is en route: “As soon as you go to sleep, Santa will be there,” she said. She wished the children and their parents a merry Christmas.
The first couple spoke to children from Mississippi, Virginia, California, George, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Wyoming, Texas and Kentucky.
EARLIER SUNDAY: Donald Trump Jr. posted on Instagram three photos with his daughter. The father and daughter pictures were taken under the yellow-and-white-striped umbrellas of Mar-a-Lago.
4 P.M.: Palm Beach has issued new road closures. “South County Road has been reduced to one lane northbound and one lane southbound between Via Bethesda and Barton until approximately 6:30 pm.”
#trumpinpalmbeach Palm Beach police blocked off Barton Ave. at Bethesda-By-The-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach on Sunday night. Pres. Donald Trump and family are expected to attend 10:30 service here tonite in Palm Beach. pic.twitter.com/DWzkHH8iWN— Bill DiPaolo (@billdipaolo) December 24, 2017
First lady Melania Trump will help children track Santa Claus later today using NORAD’s official Santa tracker, according to the first lady’s Twitter account.
NORAD Tracks Santa began in 1955 and is produced under the auspices of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
As of 2:04 p.m., NORAD reported Santa near Madagascar and has so far delivered over 2.4 billion gifts.
While his father was hitting golf balls at Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach, Donald Trump Jr. and first grandson Tristan were pumping iron at Crossfit El Cid, a gym just a few miles from the course.
Trump arrived in town last weekend for his appearance at the Turning Point USA summit - an event for conservative students. He’s managed to fit in several workouts at the gym in the last week.
The Christmas Eve workout, called a WOD, included climbing ropes, rowing and kettle bell swings.
President Trump began his Christmas Eve with a tweet bashing the FBI, a call to service members in Kuwait and golf, before making more holiday calls this afternoon, utilizing NORAD’s Santa Tracker to help them monitor the whereabouts of Mr. Claus.
The President and first lady are expected to attend midnight Christmas Eve services at Bethesda By The Sea Episcopal church in Palm Beach as they did last year, although the White House has not confirmed. It is the same church where the Trumps were married and their son Barron was baptized.
It’s another good day for golf in Palm Beach, with a high of 78 degrees expected and no rain in the forecast. No word yet on who he will play with today but here is a list of pros he has played with so far.
UPDATE 4:29 p.m.: Are some of the Trump’s headed to Aspen? The Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning to pilots of VIP movement near Aspen, Colorado beginning Tuesday, Dec. 26 through Monday, Jan. 1. Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric visited Aspen in March with all eight of their children and a contingent of Secret Service agents.
UPDATE 3:51 p.m.: Palm Beach just issued new road closures. Presidential travel likely. “South County Road has been reduced to one lane northbound and one lane southbound between Via Bethesda and Barton until approximately 6:30 pm.”
UPDATE 3:42 p.m.: About 30 minutes after arriving back at Mar-a-Lago after a long day of golf, the president got back on Twitter, this time taking another crack at “fake news.”
The Tax Cut/Reform Bill, including Massive Alaska Drilling and the Repeal of the highly unpopular Individual Mandate, brought it all together as to what an incredible year we had. Don’t let the Fake News convince you otherwise...and our insider Polls are strong!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2017
UPDATE 3 p.m.: President Trump has finished golfing and returned to Mar-a-Lago. No official word yet on what’s next butTrump is expected to join the first lady in helping track Santa via NORAD Track Santa.
UPDATE 12:08 p.m.: Donald Trump Jr., an avid CrossFit athlete, made time for workout with his son Tristan.
UPDATE 10:28 a.m.: The president arrived at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. No word yet on who he will play with today but here’s list of who he has played with so far. Meanwhile, the press pool is waiting patiently in a room in the county library across the street. The pool follows the president wherever he goes.
We have relocated to the library. The president will be golfing for the next few hours pic.twitter.com/6mVddjUqTw— Matt Morgan (@MetroMattMorgan) December 24, 2017
UPDATE 9:48 a.m.: Our pool reporter, Matt Morgan, is embedded with the president’s press pool today. We are the only local news source to give you inside pool coverage.
I'm at Mar-a-Lago in the press pool today. First thing on the schedule is a call between President Trump and members of the military pic.twitter.com/XK9xYpYVTg— Matt Morgan (@MetroMattMorgan) December 24, 2017
UPDATE 9:11 a.m.: President Trump wishes service members in Kuwait a Merry Christmas: “We say, Merry Christmas again very proudly.”
UPDATE 8:48 a.m.
The Fake News refuses to talk about how Big and how Strong our BASE is. They show Fake Polls just like they report Fake News. Despite only negative reporting, we are doing well - nobody is going to beat us. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2017