Celebrating its centennial this year, the annual tradition of Altadena’s Christmas Tree Lane will kick off with a lighting ceremony and winter festival on Saturday, Dec 10.
“The trees on Christmas Tree Lane have been lit for 102 years,” Scott Wardlaw, President of the Altadena Christmas Tree Lane Association, said.
“We are two years late, because due to covid and health concerns, we did not have our winter festival or lighting ceremony the last two years. Our actual centennial anniversary was 2020. The lights were first put up on the trees on Santa Rosa Avenue, which is Christmas Tree Lane in 1920. And we are the largest and oldest Christmas tree lighting display in the United States.”
Lighting Ceremony and Winter Festival
On Saturday, visitors will be looking at large video screens placed along the route so they can watch the lighting ceremony and program as they approach the stage.
This is a new feature for the benefit of people who may not be able to get near the stage, as the organizers are expecting more people than usual visiting Saturday night and the nights ahead.
Organizers are also putting up speakers down the lane, instead of just the stage, so visitors can listen clearly to what’s happening onstage.
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger has been invited to head the switch-on ceremony. U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu, State Senator Anthony Portantino and State Assemblyman Chris Holden are expected to be in attendance, along with city officials and other dignitaries, Wardlaw said.
“Kathryn Barger will be doing the countdowns to the lights going on simultaneously at 6:30 p.m.,” he said. “The stage presentation is from 6 to 6:30, and at 6:30, that’s when Kathryn has the lights go on. I would advise everyone to come as early as they can because the largest crowd is during the stage presentation to see the lights and be under the trees when they go on. And getting there early is advised because there will be street parking primarily.”
Between 3 p.m. and the switch-on at 6:30 p.m., live music will be played by the Altadena and Elliot Magnet Arts Schools combined choir that’s composed of about 60 children, plus the John Muir High School Band. Members of the Nutcracker Suite Ballet Troupe who are performing in Pasadena will also be there.
The day also features a Winter Arts and Crafts Festival at the Altadena Library parking lot, with vendors selling holiday gift items. Food vendors and food trucks will be onsite selling budget gourmet. The Christmas Tree Lane is providing complimentary spiced hot cider, coffee and cocoa throughout the event.
Approximately 135 Deodar Cedar trees line Christmas Tree Lane, creating what is considered the oldest large-scale outdoor Christmas display in the world. Christmas Tree Lane is on the National Register of Historic Places and is also designated as a California State Landmark. Christmas Tree Lane is also recognized as the only botanical landmark in the State Registry.
Parking is limited on the streets surrounding the Altadena Library, at 600 E. Mendocino St.
Santa Rosa Ave. will be closed to vehicles after 4 p.m. Mariposa Street to Woodbury Road will be open only to pedestrians at 7 p.m. so they can walk under the umbrella of twinkling lights.
Wardlaw said four equestrian units from the LA County Sheriff’s Department will be in the area for the public to see. He added up to 30 vendors for craft and gifts, plus the Christmas Tree Lane Association’s own gift booth, will be onsite to sell holiday ware.
Altadena is proud to be continuing this tradition every year, Wardlaw added and thanked the volunteers who come with their family and friends to make sure the event is properly organized.
“It’s all volunteers,” he said. “And in spite of the fact that it’s a rotating cast of volunteers, we get many, many people who come back year after year to help us just out of the goodness of their hearts, and because they believe this is a good thing for the community.”
Altadena Christmas Tree Lane Association
An all-volunteer organization, the Altadena Christmas Tree Lane Association was incorporated in 1958 for the main purpose of making sure the trees are lit every year and preparations are made for accommodating hundreds of visitors who come during the holiday season to enjoy the sights.
Each year, volunteers begin the work of putting the lights up in the trees in September, after the county does tree trimming work on the Deodar trees on Christmas Tree Lane.
“Typically we’d work 10 weekends – weekends only, eight until noon each weekend from September until we finish putting up the lights in the fall,” Wardlaw said. “Then we need to take the lights down because of tree growth issues and weathering that would damage the lights and the lines. We don’t leave them up all year long and we take them down in the spring.”
Take-down work typically starts at the end of February, and takes about eight weekends to finish, he added.
The Christmas Tree Lane will be lit every night starting Dec. 10 through January 9 from 5:30 p.m. till midnight.
For updates on the event and the Christmas Tree Lane, www.facebook.com/groups/CTLAltadena.