For nearly 60 years, the city of Chandler has kicked-off the Christmas season with the unique construction and lighting of its Tumbleweed Christmas tree.
Chandler’s first Tumbleweed Christmas Tree was constructed in 1957 by Chandler resident Earl Barnum, who saw a similar tree built in Indiana.
Community members assisted with the Tumbleweed Christmas tree by gathering as many tumbleweeds as they could, and continued it throughout the years.
Chandler is the only city in the southwestern United States that constructs such a tree for the holiday season, according to city officials.
This year’s Tumbleweed Christmas Tree will be constructed by members of the Chandler Park Division, in which they collect hundreds of roaming tumbleweeds throughout the city.
“It’s one of the few things that we do that’s not our regular job, and we get a chance to work with a few people we don’t normally work with through the year,” said Russ Lassuy, park maintenance technician. “We usually work on the tree for about two weeks before it’s completed.”
Considering the growth Chandler has experienced throughout the years, there are limited empty lands within the city, which poses a problem in terms of collecting tumbleweeds.
However, Park Division associates began collecting tumbleweeds throughout the year in order to have a significant amount for the Christmas tree. Nearly 1,000 tumbleweeds were collected for the tree, and members of the Park Division will begin building the tree during the first week of December.
Once the tumbleweeds are collected and sorted, they are placed on a 25-foot wire frame and sprayed with white paint, flame retardant, and dusted with glitter.
The tree is then covered with nearly 1,200 holiday lights just before its official lightening ceremony.
“For nearly 60 years, the Tumbleweed Tree Lighting has been a popular event for Chandler residents. I’ve grown up with this unique tradition and it’s wonderful to see thousands of families join us each year for the lighting,” said Mayor Jay Tibshraeny. “The tree just seems to get bigger and brighter each year and the lighting ceremony marks a great way to kick off the holiday season.”
The Tumbleweed Christmas tree’s official lighting ceremony will take place on Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. at Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, 3 S. Arizona Ave.
For additional information about the lighting ceremony or Chandler’s Tumbleweed Christmas tree, visit www.chandleraz.gov.
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