ORLANDO – Lying on its side and covered over, it didn’t look as massive as Christopher Wallace promised it was going to be.
“We’re putting up a 35 to 40 foot Christmas tree,” Wallace said, as he stood in front of the Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park.
Wallace, the city’s manager for Lake Eola Park, was pointing to the truck that had brought along the all-natural spruce tree from Sugar Mountain Nursery in North Carolina. It arrived in Orlando on Wednesday, and this morning, the truck brought it to the park to be set up right next to the amphitheater.
“We think it was cut at 37 feet,” Wallace said. “It was shipped from North Carolina. That’s the only place we could get a big enough spruce tree. Last year we got it from North Carolina as well.”
If the tree didn’t look like much wrapped up heavily on that truck, Wallace promised that by the day after Thanksgiving, it would look a lot more impressive, and would remain at Lake Eola Park through Jan. 7. For one thing, it will be heavily decorated with lights that turn on just as darkness is setting in.
“It will come on as it gets dark, probably around 5:30,” he said.
After the tree arrived, Maxim Crane Works volunteered to provide the huge crane needed to lift and stand the tree, which will be lit at the City’s annual Holiday Lights Orlando event, which is going to feature The Gift Christmas Festival and Show this year.
“The crane will come here shortly, and lift it up,” Wallace said.
After that, Mary Lowndes Poole & Associates of Orlando is scheduled to begin decorating the tree on both Friday, Nov. 25 and Saturday, Nov. 26, while SunBelt Rentals has donated the bucket lift for the decorating work.
Trinity Downtown and Bethany Christian Services donated the tree and have coordinated the delivery and installation of it, as well as the special events that go with it.
“We started doing this last year,” said Wren Aber, assistant executive director at Trinity Evangeical Lutheran Church and School. “We started sponsoring the gift as a Christmas entertainment show for the neighborhood. We started two years ago doing a festival here at Lake Eola.”
That tradition continues this year. The city’s Holiday Lights Orlando event will be held on Friday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. at the Disney Amphitheater.
“We start the entertainment on the stage at 4 o’clock, and then at 6:15, the mayor will be here to light the tree,” Aber said. “There will be performances from Voices of Liberty, the vocal group that sings at Epcot at the American Pavillion. At 6:30, we do a children’s play, and the New Dimensions Jazz Ensemble will perform. They’re pretty hot.”
Later in the evening, there will be a showing of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”
“Since we’re partnering with the city, it allows us to be more elaborate,” Aber said.
As for the tree decorating, he said “It will be traditional red and green and silver decorations by Mary Lowndes Poole & Associates. They’re decorating on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, and we’ll have about 45 people out here.”
It promises, he said, to look spectacular when it’s all lit up.
“We’ll have about 2,000 LED lights and several hundred ornaments,” Aber said, adding that he expects a huge crowd to turn out for the Dec. 2 festival.
“There are 1,000 seats in the amphitheatre, and we always get the seats filled,” he said.
Wallace said they’re also working on getting holiday music played in the evenings when the tree is lit.
“We do have the ability to play Christmas music all through the park,” he said.
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