Sellwood-Westmoreland Christmas Tree decorated in record time
Clear weather, and only a light breeze, made Monday, November 17, the perfect morning for raising the star and hanging the lights on the Sellwood and Westmoreland Christmas Tree on the "Bybee curve" on the ridge above Oaks Bottom.
Again this year, with the kind approval of the Edwards family, which owns the property where the tall evergreen grows along S.E. 13th Avenue, the neighborhood association SMILE's volunteers turned out to help with the decorating.
And, thanks to last year's fundraising campaign, the tall tree is now decked out with high-power LED lamps – as pointed out by one of the two coordinators, Bruce Heiberg. "Instead of having 20 strands and 20 circuit breakers, we light the tree using one heavy extension cord to power it, and we will power the whole thing courtesy of Beeson Chiropractic Wellness Center just south of the tree, which is donating the electricity again this year."
The other long-time coordinator, SMILE's Matt Hainley, couldn't speak with THE BEE during the decorating – because, as usual, he was riding high in the bucket of a Smith Crane truck, stringing the lights.
However, at the official tree lighting ceremony, held at 6 p.m. on Friday evening, November 23, Hainley recalled how Dent Thomas started the tradition of lighting a big tree on the bluff decades ago.
The heavy rain forecast for that evening was only a mist, as dozens of neighbors and friends gathered to sing carols and watch the tree illuminated for the first time this year.
"It's all about family and tradition; this provides continuity that keeps us connected with our past, while we're looking to our future," Hainley mused.
As the mist finally turned to a hard, cold rain, as Oregonians most of the group stood their ground, bravely singing as rivulets of rain smeared the song sheets and fogged their eyeglasses.
Santa Claus made an appearance; the lights came on, and, once again the SMILE Christmas Tree shone brightly through the Holidays, high above Oaks Bottom and Oaks Amusement Park – and clearly visible even from Interstate Five, across the Willamette River.