Festivities Underway as 60-Foot Holiday Tree Comes to Old Sacramento

OLD SACRAMENTO -- It's early November and that means the holidays are right around the corner.

On Monday, Old Sacramento welcomed this year's official holiday tree, a 30-to 40-year-old, 60-foot white fir from Carlton Christmas Trees in Burney, California.

"It doesn't surprise me that we won, because we take good, special care. James Carlton, who is the owner and manager, he picks every tree personally for his customers," said Kevin Fletcher of Carlton Christmas Trees. "So this wasn't a random tree. This is one that he picked out specifically for Old Sacramento."

A few months ago, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership did a photograph audition of several available trees and chose the Carlton tree as their winner.

"This tree is part of the theater of lights," said Brooksie Hughes, Old Sacramento district director for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. "So, the ornaments are really specific, and they're electronic, so their scale requires it to be no less than 56 feet."

The tree is not just for decoration. It is also a vital storytelling component for the ninth annual "Twas the Night Before Christmas" show.

"As the characters on both of the balconies are telling the story and lighting the tree, it's this back and forth," Hughes said. "Santa is saying, 'It's happy time,' and has all the lights lit up, and Jack Frost is saying, 'No, no, no, we like winter and cold,' and it all turns blue. So, the tree goes back and forth between those characters, and in the end, we know Christmas triumphs."

Professionals will set up the theatrics until opening night in a race against time. They include 50,000 to 100,000 lights and hundreds of ornaments, as well as decorations all around Old Sacramento.

"When you're talking about a 60-foot holiday tree, and it needs to go into the ground and get decorated, it takes us two and a half full weeks to do that," Hughes said. "So, it is no small feat to get this ready for Thanksgiving. So, at Thanksgiving, when we do the tree lighting on the 22nd and kick off the entire holiday season, we'll be ready to go."

The "Twas the Night Before Christmas" shows will take place Thursday through Sunday, plus a few extra days before the final performance on Christmas Eve.