By Jeremy Couso
Publisher and Editor, SusanvilleStuff
Good morning kids! Here’s hoping you had an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday! We spent the day at mom and dad’s house, surrounded by family, and had a fantastic time.
Now, back at the office with Thanksgiving drawing to a close, with crackers and cheese and Gene Autry playing Christmassy goodness, it feels as though the holidays have really begun in earnest.
The Lassen County Chamber of Commerce Uptown Community Christmas Tree
Oh boy, if you know me at all, you know I like Christmas, and nothing says Christmas in Susanville quite like the Chamber of Commerce’s big tree at the top of Main Street, just below the Elks Lodge.
Construction of the thirty-foot tall community tree is part of preparations being made for the Chamber of Commerce’s Magical Country Christmas Celebration on December 3rd, where Santa will make his entrance in the Holiday Light Parade before officially lighting the tree, which will be followed by fireworks.
The Magical Country Christmas celebration is a really fun party in uptown and literally thousands of people come out each year for the event.
The artificial Christmas tree has topped Main Street each season since 2014. Prior to that one of the two large trees in front of the Elks Lodge was filled with tiny, twinkly Christmas lights and lit each year, but the wiring had deteriorated to the point where it was constantly in need of repair and deemed a fire hazard, so an artificial tree was purchased.
An interesting side note: when I was in high school both of the trees in front of the Elks were lit until one Christmas, I think 1987, when at the tree lighting, they did the countdown… 3… 2… 1… and knocked out power to the north side of town. After that they just used one tree.
Each year, on the Monday before Thanksgiving, rain or shine, a group of volunteers show up to construct the tree.
The process goes something like this; first the metal skeleton of the tree is brought from storage and assembled on top of a giant red pedestal. For the first 8 years of the tree’s existence this task was performed every year by members of the Hagata family, who were really the tree experts.
This year that job fell to the Lassen College Baseball Team. Coach Avilla’s boys put the metal frame together, checked wiring, and tightened bolts to keep everything in place.
There is even a bit of mystery involved – nobody is quite sure what happened to the assembly instructions for the tree.
Lineman Raoul Faustino from Lassen Municipal Utility District used a bucket truck to hoist the treetop into place, and checked the wiring up top to make sure the lights would be ready for Santa’s Grand Entrance next week.
While all of this was going on another group of volunteers was pulling the tree’s branches out of their storage boxes and fluffing them up, so they look natural on the tree.
Another interesting side note, that may or may not be true: Up until the late 1950’s a giant Christmas tree was constructed by the fire department right in the middle of the Lassen and Main Street intersection each Christmas. Yes, a giant, decorated tree right in the middle of the street.
But keep in mind I have only read this in a few places, and I have never seen a picture of it. But someone out there will remember and let me know. Or maybe a picture?
At this point in tree construction the LCC baseball players are clinging to the skeleton of the tree like it is playground equipment – dangling from odd angles to reach down and get branches from the volunteers below. Like a weird holiday Cirque du Soleil.
All told, it takes those 40 volunteers about two hours to get the tree ready for the Christmas Celebration. After that it will be lit at the top of Main for the duration of the Holiday season.
The Chamber’s Magical Country Christmas Celebration will be held next Saturday, December 3rd starting at 5:00p.m. in uptown Susanville. At 6:00, Santa will arrive on the City’s antique fire engine in the Holiday Light Parade and throw the switch to light the tree.
Have a great rest of your Thanksgiving weekend everybody! See you next week!