Douglas denizens young and old will gather in the 1100 block of Third Street tonight for the annual Douglas Community Tree Lighting, a 5-year-old event sponsored by the Douglas Fourth of July committee.
The festivities begin around 6 p.m. Mayor Bruce Botelho will have the honor of turning on the tree. Stroller White Pipes and Drums will play, and an assortment of Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts will sing carols.
Scouts will also pass out refreshments, provided by Douglas Community United Methodist Church members.
The tree, a 40-foot-tall Sitka spruce, stands between the church and the Waterwheel Plaza on the shore side of the street.
Third Street, between E and G streets, will be closed from 5:30 to 8 p.m. to accommodate the expected overflow crowd for the ceremony. About 200 people usually show up, said Susanne Williams, of the Douglas Fourth of July Committee.
At 8 p.m., the public is welcome to the Treadwell Arena for a holiday skate. Children 12 and under are admitted free.
The tree ceremony began five years ago when the committee started talking about organizing a holiday event in addition to its annual Fourth of July parade.
What: Douglas Community Tree Lighting
When: 6 p.m. tonight
Where: The shore side of Third Street, between the Douglas Community United Methodist Church and Waterwheel Plaza
"We celebrated our 100th year of putting on the Fourth of July in Douglas, and we started thinking about the other big holidays that the miners had," Williams said. "The only time they had off was the Fourth of July and Christmas. So we thought that it would carry on the historical tradition for Douglas if we also did something for December."
The young spruce has grown almost three feet since last year and now stands at least 40 feet tall, Williams said. A few of the branches are now hitting the three strands of power lines that cross to the plaza and the church. That's turned the decoration process into a delicate maneuver.
"It's becoming more of a problem getting the lights on," Williams said.
The tree will be lit for 37 days, before it is unplugged on New Year's Day.
Chatham Electric provided a bucket truck for workmen and committee members to reach the upper branches of the tree. About 300 ornaments dot the spruce.