Holidays

Christmas season arrives in Old Sacramento with a 62-foot tree. Wait, Christmas is here?

There’s always disagreement about when it’s an appropriate time to start celebrating Christmas and the winter holiday season. The day after Thanksgiving? Start of November? Maybe your lights are still up from 2018.

How about when a giant Christmas tree comes to town?

Crane-lifted in place Monday morning, a 62-foot white fir completed its journey from the slopes of Burney Mountain to the Old Sacramento Waterfront, where teams of volunteers and workers from businesses will spend the next few weeks decking it out with almost 24,000 lights and nearly 600 icicles.

Then, on Nov. 27 – the day before Thanksgiving, if you’re keeping track – the annual lighting ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. After that, Macy’s “Theatre of Lights” show will take place every Thursday through Sunday evening up through Christmas Eve, not including Thanksgiving Day.

Scott Ford, district operations manager for the Old Sacramento Waterfront, says this year’s tree is the biggest that’s ever been displayed in Old Sacramento. The trees, which are provided annually by Carlton Christmas Trees, are usually only 60 feet, Ford said. This year’s behemoth is 62 feet tall, nearly 40 years old and weighs about 10,000 pounds.

“It’s quite the spectacle,” Ford said on a brisk Monday morning, as workers hammered at the trunk of the tree to continue erecting it. “Each year, I really enjoy this day – just to watch it come in, it kind of marks the beginning of the busiest time of the year here.”

The free light shows at the tree, now standing at the waterfront plaza on K Street between Front and Second streets, will take place at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. every Thursday through Sunday after Thanksgiving up through Dec. 24, Ford said. Christmas Eve will have just one show, at 6 p.m.

“There’s also now the passage through to DoCo and onto the ice rink at Seventh and K (streets). It’s just a wonderful holiday experience that everyone can enjoy,” he said.

Sacramento’s downtown ice rink was revamped last year, boosted in size and capacity while taking on a new rounded square shape, rather than an oval. A total of 175 skaters could share the ice, up from about 140 in previous years. And at 6,800 square feet, it’s only 500 square feet smaller than the famous Rockefeller Center rink in New York.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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