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Christmas tree lighting a tradition

Stina SiegPost Independent Staff Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS Watching a herd of big trucks rumble up Grand Avenue, its hard to imagine that, only a half century or so ago, a Christmas tree used to stand there smack dab in the middle of the street.Thats one of the many facts that Cindy Hines, director of the Frontier Historical Museum, will share with attendees at the annual tree lighting. As is tradition, it will be held outside the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association during its holiday open house. Along with the illumination and a brief talk by Hines, Santa will make an appearance, serenaded by a local troupe of caroling Girl Scouts.According to Willa Soncarty, archivist and registrar for the historical society, this years event is a continuation of a local tradition, started in the mid 1910s. Back then, it was festive to cut down a fresh pine and set it up, fully decorated, in the center of the main thoroughfare. This continued until 1949, when the swell of cars and upswing of drive-by deflockings made the trees presence more of a hassle than a pleasure.It was just about the holiday spirit, a good will thing, said Soncarty, but when you look at it, it just really impedes traffic. People would go and have a run at the tree.Starting in 1950, the lights and decorations were moved to a new tree, planted in memory of Louisa Schwarz, near where the chamber now sits. Called one of the Glenwoods first big names by Soncarty, Schwarz was known to bring a small, ceramic Christmas tree that played Oh, Tenenbaum to local classrooms.She was just one of those neat people that everybody liked, Soncarty said.These days, her tree wears its lights year-round, as theyve become imbedded in its bark. Though the tiny bulbs are ever-present, turning them on each year is still a big event, one that brought out 50 parents and children last Christmas.It was just fun, said Krista Kaufman, vice president of special events for the chamber. We had a lot of different kids out there. It was just a warm feeling even thought it was cold. Though Soncarty agreed that the night it is always a lovely one, she admitted that part of her wishes she could see the tree in the old location. Apparently, theres just something romantic about the idea of a lone pine, sitting in the middle of a busy intersection. It would be nice, she said, with a subtle laugh, but it wouldnt be practical.Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111ssieg@postindependent.comPost Independent Glenwood Springs CO Colorado


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