Making the City Hall Holiday Tree Happen


Published on Dec 2, 2021

As it will do this Friday evening, Pasadena has been lighting up a holiday tree at City Hall since 1909. That’s a long time. 

And for more than thirty of those years, Pasadena Public Works Crew Supervisor Earl Charles has been leading the team that makes the City tree sparkle every holiday season.

This year’s 24-foot white fir tree, delivered from a tree farm in Oregon, and now sitting in the rotunda of Pasadena City Hall, will feature nearly 5,000 individual lights and anywhere from 600 to 700 decorative ornaments. 

“It’s different every year,” says Charles, explaining that there are new types of lights and different ornaments every year. And, he noted, “This year, there’s a new star up on the tree.”

Decorating the tree takes a few days every year, but, just like in any home, everyone has their own opinion of how to decorate it. 

“One year we draped it in red ribbons,” recalled Charles,  “and someone said it looked like blood flowing down off the tree, so we had to take it all apart and do it again.”

Hopefully, no such decision takes place this year. 

Charles is nearing retirement, he says, but adds that he may have “one or two more trees” left in him. However, he says he has trained his crew well, he said, and is confident they can carry on in his stead. 

The lights on the tree will be turned on with much fanfare on Friday during the annual Mayor’s Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony.

This will be Mayor Victor M. Gordo’s first time officiating. The lighting every year comes after the Mayor counts down to zero on the steps of City Hall, flips the switch and the decorated tree comes ablaze with lights.

Families can also enjoy festive musical performances by local young talent, including 10-year-old Anderson Mathis, a 5th grader at Polytechnic School.

As has been the tradition in recent years, former Pasadena police Lieutenant Rodney D. Wallace will emcee the cheery affair.

A holiday craft contest is also on the program, which will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

In addition, Pasadena Fire Department officials will be in attendance to collect new, unwrapped toys for the “Spark of Love” Toy Drive, a City Hall announcement said.

Attendees are requested to wear a face covering and to stay home if they feel sick to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For more information, call (626) 744-7500 or visit


The 2021 Mayor’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place Friday, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 100 North Garfield Avenue, Pasadena.