BY KELLY KRUSE
Each year, like clockwork a 30 foot or more Blue Spruce makes its way to Monument Square. But how does it get there, who organizes it and how does it get decorated? Well, a lot goes into it! The Downtown Racine Corporation and Downtown BID District work together along with many community members to make it a reality each and every year.
It all started in 2000 when Barb Erhart visited Lake Forrest, Ill. and revelled in the beauty of their holiday tree in the center of downtown. The wheels started turning in Barb’s mind, and when she got back to Racine, she started the early plans to bring one to our downtown.
Throughout the year, people call the Downtown Racine Corporation’s office and tell us about trees on their property that could be cut and donated for the Community Tree. Erhart looks at each and every one and makes her decision in late October for one lucky Blue Spruce that gets the honor of being our official Community Tree for the holiday season.
The week prior to the Downtown Holiday Parade, Erhart, Steve Dykstra from Dykstra Bros. Excav Inc., Matt Klaus from American Erecting, Jimmy Bouwma and Josh Valles, donate their time and resources to cut down the chosen tree and have it escorted through downtown by the Racine Police Department and then placed on Monument Square. The following week, the tree is decorated with over 18,000 lights by Oasis Landscape and Design.
And none of this would be possible without the sponsorship Festival Foods, which provides funding to cover the cost of decorating and new lights each year.
As tradition has it, the official lighting of the tree comes right after the Holiday Parade and concludes with the help of Mr. and Mrs. Claus and this year. This year Mayor Corey Mason joined the festivities as well to officially “flip the switch” and light up the tree. We consider this the official beginning of the holiday season!
We hope you take the time to visit downtown Racine this winter, do some holiday shopping and dining and take some photos by our Community Tree.
For information on how you can volunteer or donate to the Downtown Racine Corporation, email Kelly Kruse at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!
To join our email list visit racinedowntown.com. To join our text club, text the keyword: Racine to 95577
Kelly Kruse is the executive director at Downtown Racine Corporation.