Last week, all eyes were on Rockefeller Center for the lighting of that famous Christmas tree. But did you know that the tree lighting in Washington Square Park was a tradition that dates back much earlier? The tree in Washington Square Park was first placed and lit in 1924, and the tradition has continued annually. This year’s holiday tree lighting ceremony will take place this Wednesday, December 11 from 6:00 to 7:00 PM.
The tree, along with an annual tree lighting ceremony and Christmas Eve carol sing have been sponsored by the Washington Square Association since its inception. The Association, one of the oldest civic organizations in the city, was formed in the early 1900s (according to the Association, either 1904 or 1906) to safeguard and maintain the area as an attractive residential neighborhood. Today, the Association continues to support the community surrounding the park. It also sponsors a number of community events, including the holiday tree, carol sings, and the annual Washington Square Music Festival.
While the Washington Square Park holiday tree certainly has a long history, it was not the first community tree in New York City. Our friends at the Bowery Boys blog has a wonderful post on the Madison Square Christmas tree, erected in 1912 by progressives for the city’s poor.
This year’s Washington Square Park holiday tree lighting ceremony will feature a 45-foot tree from Vermont, a carol sing—with songbooks provided by the Washington Square Association, music by the Rob Susman Brass Quartet, and an appearance by Santa himself. In addition, the Washington Square Association will host another carol sing on Christmas Eve. Thanks to the Washington Square Association for another year of holiday cheer!