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Tree lightings – A history

By Melissa Wagoner

Silverton’s Christmas festivities are a tradition that goes back over 100 years, according to the information Silverton Country Historical Society member Chris Schwab found in back issues of The Silverton Appeal.

“Some are blurry, some don’t have dates,” Schwab said of the articles, but all depict Christmas in Silverton as the most wonderful time of the year.

1922: The year the “tree in the street” tradition began thanks to the 4-L organization – the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen founded during WWI – and the year Christmas music was distributed to area schools so that the children could take part in “the community sing” Christmas day.

1936: The “bird committee” released 40 “turks and chickens” for a bird scramble. “This will be one of the highlights of the opening of the Christmas season,” the article said, “and is expected to lend riotous mirth to spectators as well as participants.”

1940: Sometime around this year the tree was taken over by merchant and civic groups. The Appeal observed, “the holiday atmosphere is beginning to permeate the city. Storefronts are being decorated with fir and cedar boughs and windows are filling up with Christmas gifts.”

1950: “A beautiful 40-foot-high Christmas tree was brought from the forest…” and erected on First and Main.

1959: “A lovely 15-foot tree was installed on the ‘police dugout’ at Main and Water,” The Appeal noted. To which Schwab later queried, “Police dugout?”

1963: The town celebrated with not one, but two trees.

1965: Volunteers built Santa’s house next to the town tree and then later raffled it off.

1983: “[A] new tradition began.” A large fir tree near the historic train depot and the library was dedicated “to the memory of Silverton’s premier Santa Claus, Paul Almquist, and for about ten years lighting this tree was an integral part of the festivities, often followed by a parade to the downtown tree to light it as well.”

1993: The tree lighting was coordinated by Dave and Patty Dunmire who, Schwab wrote, “went on to oversee the lighting of Silverton’s downtown for I guess, a bazillion years!”

2006: A disastrous year as “the tree was toppled by bad weather.”

2007: The Silverton Chamber of Commerce purchased a live tree, which was planted in Town Square Park where it remains to this day.

2023 Festivities

Shop Hop
Nov. 24 – Dec. 12
Visit participating locations or the Silverton Chamber of Commerce for your Shop Hop card.

Children’s Lantern Parade
Friday, Dec. 1, 4 to 6 p.m.
Coolidge McClaine Park Pavilion
Lantern decorating, cookies, cocoa and a visit from Santa 

Silverton Christmas Tree Lighting
Friday, Dec. 1, 6 to 7 p.m.
Town Square Park
Holiday music, cocoa and letters to Santa drop off location

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