LOGAN — A small town boy from Logan has always dreamed of going to the White House to decorate for Christmas since he was 14 years old and now that dream is about to become his reality.
Caleb McCarthy remembers watching former First Lady Laura Bush decorate the White House for Christmas with the theme, a Season of Merriment and Melody.
“And at that moment in me it birthed a dream of wanting to decorate the White House,” expressed McCarthy.
On Aug. 9, 2018, McCarthy applied for the volunteer position of helping decorate the White House for Christmas after a friend had shared the advertisement on Facebook with him. With his application he included his Instagram account, which features all of his photos of work and a cover letter explaining why this position would be an honor to receive.
“Back in 2010, I had the privilege of meeting the gentlemen that was overseeing decorating the White House during the Obama Administration in Atlanta, Georgia,” wrote McCarthy in his letter. “He told me the joy of decorating the White House. It has been the biggest dream of mine and now with the Trump Administration, it would be an honor and a privilege to help Melania Trump decorate the White House for Christmas.”
Not thinking he would be accepted, he applied and went on with his everyday life working a full-time job and preparing to decorate other local locations as his side business.
McCarthy started his company, Captivate Designs Co. LLC, around this time last year and has decorated two cancer centers, three malls and six churches since following his passion. Aside from Christmas designs, he also does regular season events such as baby showers, weddings and church stage designs for bigger events and conferences.
Attempting to follow his dream career and still make a living has been difficult for McCarthy since he first started out at 23, but he hasn’t given up and it has paid off. His first big gig was at the Zangmeister Cancer Center in Columbus where one of the women from the River Valley Mall was receiving treatment and soon after contacted McCarthy about decorating for the mall.
Since then it’s been word of mouth that’s given McCarthy opportunity after opportunity to decorate for Christmas — also his favorite holiday. Over the past four years, he’s decorated the Polaris Fashion Place, Zangmeister Cancer Center, River Valley Mall, Indian Mound Mall and new to the list this year, Mount Carmel East Outpatient Cancer Treatment Center.
This year, after reaching out to his usual places and more, most opportunities were an unfortunate no from businesses. Frustrated, McCarthy thought to himself, ‘Well dear Lord, why are all these doors shutting this year?’ The very next day, Sept. 18, he received the invitation from the White House.
“We are excited to inform you that you have been chosen to help decorate the White House in preparation for the 2018 Holiday Season. This year thousands of exceptional individuals applied from each state across the country and we hope you can join us later this year,” stated the letter from the White House.
McCarthy feels as though it’s all a dream. Searching through his emails to find the schedule of the week he’ll be in D.C., he noted, “It’s pretty cool when you go into your emails and you type White House and they pop up.”
Ever since the initial spark of passion for interior design through fixing stage designs and decorating Christmas floats for his local church, McCarthy has tirelessly tried to follow his dream.
McCarthy explained how excited he is to place ‘Helped Decorate White House’ on his resume and searches for the right words to describe his feelings.
“What’s awesome about this is that it validates me — like it makes it — it’s not a joke anymore — like this is what I want to do,” shared McCarthy.
If you’d like to check out more of his designs, search for his company page @captivatedesignsco on Instagram.