Bellwood History: Christmas tree lighting


Emalee Strong

The Christmas tree lighting ceremony has been a part of the Bellwood community experience for seven decades.

A tradition in Bellwood-Antis has been the tree lighting ceremony near the public library on Main Street, but this year due to COVID families weren’t able to watch the tree light up while enjoying some free hot cocoa and listening to the high school chorus members sing Christmas songs.

A look at some old newspapers shows the ceremony hasn’t always been on Mainstreet. 

In 1954 on the north side of town at North Fourth and Tuckahoe streets, under the supervision of Dean Evans, a large community Christmas was erected with 175 various-colored lights and a large neon star and a neon bell. The tree was secured from Homer Lumber Company of Glasgow at a nominal fee and delivered to the site by Walker Feed company. The people of Bellwood and other surrounding areas were invited to hold a choral group singing at this community tree. 

In 1957 Bellwood police were investigating acts of vandalism that partially destroyed the decorations on the Christmas tree. Thirty-five of the colored bulbs were stolen, wiring damaged, the tree-top star was broken, other bulbs were broken, and even the branches were broken. It looked like someone climbed the Christmas tree.

The North Side  tree was an act to show Christmas spirit throughout the town and brought enjoyment to the people. Even to this day the annual Christmas lighting still instills Christmas spirit throughout the town and brings enjoyment to the people.

In 1962, the Christmas tree was placed downtown. North Side businesses had been able to provide help with repairs and replacing the broken bulbs, wires and sockets for the 225 large colored bulbs lighting the Christmas tree with Neon star on the top. The placing and lighting of the tree has been a custom promoted by the above mentioned group for years.