The rooftop Tree of Lights – Fast facts

Did you know that the giant Christmas tree on top of the Coast Inn of the North is over five stories tall and takes a full week to raise to vertical?

Tree of Lights 2014

Courtesy Coast Inn of the North.

The Salvation Army Tree of Lights has illuminated Prince George’s holiday skyline since 1987. Every year, residents donate funds to light bulbs on the massive tree, then watch as the glittering lights slowly fill the tree from bottom to top as the festive season progresses. Here are a few facts behind this sparkling PG Christmas tradition:

  • This year’s tree is a 60-foot tall spruce tree from the Upper Fraser Valley.
  • Warmac Ventures, the local logging contractor that cuts and donates the tree each year, must obtain a special Ministry of Forests cutting permit for the tree because it exceeds the size regulations of a normal Christmas tree permit.
  • Sterling Crane lifts the hulking tree from ground to roof in about three hours. This year’s tree weighs an estimated 7,000-8,000 pounds — a mass equivalent to the weight of 2-3 Volkswagen Beetle cars.
  • The tree is covered with 6,200 light bulbs, which staff at the Coast Inn of the North string by hand on the rooftop.
  • It takes one full week to string the tree with lights and hoist it to vertical, says Butch Doherty, maintenance manger at the Coast Inn of the North. “We have to raise the tree bit by bit and wrap the lights around it as we go,” says Doherty. This labour-intensive process explains why you’ll often see the tree suspended at bizarre angles for days after it first appears on top of the Coast.
  • Donations of $5 or more light one bulb on the tree, which gives a potential minimum fundraising total of $31,000. Last year’s campaign netted $29,171.
  • The tree is typically displayed from mid-November to mid-January, but the last day for donations to the charitable campaign is December 24.

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