Weekly Feature

christmas tree, rockefeller center christmas tree
Jason DeCrow/AP
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The Most Impressive Christmas Decorations in the US

December 12, 2009
by Lindsey Chapman
Amazing Christmas trees, brilliant light displays and lovely holiday decorations attract attention from scores of people across the country because of their beauty, and sometimes because of their excess. FindingDulcinea has located some of the most notable.

Iconic Christmas Trees

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Since 1969, the Christmas tree that adorns the U.S. Capitol lawn has come from one of the country’s national forests. Each year, a state takes a turn providing a tree and ornaments as a gift to the country. The first tree came from Pennsylvania. The 2009 Capitol Christmas Tree is from Arizona. Schoolchildren in Arizona also crafted thousands of handmade ornaments for the tree.

Another famous holiday figure is the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, first put up by construction workers in 1931. The first official lighting ceremony occurred in 1933; this year marks the 77th such ceremony. Mayor Mike Bloomberg and and Jerry Speyer, CEO of Tishman Speyer, lit the 75-foot Norway Spruce on Dec. 2. The tree will remain lit until Jan. 7, 2010.

Famous and Infamous Lights Displays

The day after Thanksgiving, Minnesota kicks off the holidays with a “fairytale for all” known as the Holidazzle parade. This festive occasion features multitudes of lights that appear on floats, and in many instances, on the people participating in the parade.

Holidazzle was inspired by merchant desperation in the early 1990s. Retailers were concerned that the construction of a new mall would affect their businesses, so they came up with a way to bring shoppers to the area. The parade continues until Dec. 20.
During the season, some people carry their holiday spirit to excess. In 1993, a Christmas display in Little Rock, Ark., drew thousands of visitors and the ire of neighbors that considered its 3.2 million lights and the increased local traffic a nuisance. Jennings Osborne and his wife were sued over the display, and the state Supreme Court found Mr. Osborne in contempt; the Osbornes tried taking their case to the United States Supreme Court, but the appeal was turned down.

The Osbornes have shared their side of the story and a photo of their original display on their Web site.

Remembering the Military

Several years ago, Morrill Worcester, who owns a holiday decoration company in Maine, had a surplus of holiday wreaths. While thinking about what to do with the extras, he remembered a trip to Arlington National Cemetery that he’d taken as a young boy. “We couldn’t do anything in this country if it wasn’t for the people who gave their lives to protect us,” he said to the Air Force Print News.

He decided to place the wreaths on graves in the cemetery. Since then, Worcester has deliberately set aside wreaths every year, and dozens of volunteers help to lay them on the gravestones.

A Noteworthy Nativity Scene

At New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, spectators from around the world come to see the museum’s Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche. Angels decorate a brightly lit spruce tree, while nativity figures below complete the scene. The history of the display dates back to 1925, when Loretta Hines Howard started collecting crèche figures. She came up with a new idea: combining an elaborate nativity display with a well-decorated Christmas tree. The museum first began exhibiting her work in 1957.

Howard died in 1982. After that, her daughter—and later, her granddaughter—assumed the task of designing the museum’s display.
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