Truckee’s holiday tree to shine on Nov. 17 |

Truckee’s holiday tree to shine on Nov. 17

Cassandra Walker
By this Friday night, Historic Downtown Truckee will be lit up for the holiday season.
Courtesy of Rimifire Photography |

Historic Downtown Truckee will carry on a decades-long tradition with the lighting of the town’s holiday tree on Friday, Nov. 17.

“Historic Downtown Truckee is our heart and soul, and celebrating the holiday season is a true community event and a collaboration among several people all coming together to make it happen — plus there will be free parking!” said Cassie Hebel, executive director of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association (TDMA).

Truckee’s initiative to light up the town dates back to 1970, and features miniature trees decorated by local school children that are hung from the lampposts.

“This event is special to me personally because I remember my children — who are now 29 and 27 — decorating their little tree to put around town, and at that time our town wasn’t lit up for Christmas,” said Julie Huck, owner of Gratitudes and a TDMA board member.

Huck added, “It wasn’t until a while later that my mom and I wanted to see downtown Truckee lit up like an old fashioned town, and that’s when we got the idea. It’s been almost 50 years with the kids decorating trees to under 10 years ago starting to put up white lights, then the tree, and the candy canes, and it’s finally what it is now.”

Locals and visitors of Truckee take pride in their town, its rich history and family traditions.

One such tradition is selecting the perfect Truckee tree to ring in the holidays with a beacon of season’s cheer.

“It’s all about the fullness and the height,” Huck said.

She added, “It’s in such a fabulous location so we’re always looking for something that has branches all the way up, nice fullness, but also height so it’s seen from everywhere.”

For the first few years, local Don Davis donated trees from his property.

The tree gets bigger every year, with last year’s being the largest yet. After displaying Davis’ trees, the TDMA began working directly with the Forest Service to locate the best Truckee holiday tree candidates.

“Last year’s tree was the biggest, so this year was a painstaking task to out-do the previous year. When the tree came down some branches came off, so those guys made sure there were no holes, everyone wants it to be perfect for the town, it’s such a labor of love with all involved including the TDMA, PUD and Town of Truckee. It’s a team effort to cut the tree, put it on a trailer, use a crane and get it placed in town every year,” Huck said.

The event is collaborated between several town entities also, including Truckee Rotary, who used to host their own celebration in honor of Bud Fish, a longtime Truckee local and forester.

Fish provided a tree in downtown Truckee over the holidays for years, and is said to have gotten a crew of volunteers to put it up and decorate it for the town to enjoy.

By merging the Rotary’s dedication ceremony with the Truckee tree lighting, community members now have the opportunity to pay respect to the selflessness of Bud Fish during the Bud Fish Tree Lighting ceremony, in addition to lighting the grand holiday tree and sidewalks of downtown Truckee.

“People should come out because it’s a true community event. Local families come down from different schools and have cocoa, cookies, meet Santa and take a photo with him, and just enjoying the holiday cheer,” Hebel said.

Friday’s ceremony is just the kickoff of fun snowy weather activation throughout Truckee’s historical district, featuring Festive Fridays where the town offers free parking and participating businesses will keep their doors open for extended shopping hours.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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