Birmingham Christmas trees
This is a list of Birmingham Christmas trees, displayed publicly in the city:
The Downtown Action Committee began sponsoring a Christmas tree lighting in Birmingham in 1948. Santa Claus made an annual appearance on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day to hand out stockings filled with candy while choirs sang carols.
The official "Birmingham Christmas Tree" was a live tree planted at Woodrow Wilson Park in 1959 as a joint project of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Park and Recreation Board. It and a life-size nativity scene anchored the northern end of what promoters called "Santa Claus Lane" (20th Street North between the park and Morris Avenue), which was lit by thousands of lights. For a number of years a sleigh-shaped parade float, driven by Bull Connor, would make a nightly circuit down the length of Santa Claus Lane and back, pulling kids and local children's TV personalities. Members of the Alabama Clown Association helped work the crowds during the annual lighting ceremonies planned by the Women's Junior Chamber of Commerce.
In 1963 retailer Ferd Weil and the Downtown Action Committee expanded the decorating to additional streets, each given their own theme. 1st Avenue was "Christmas Carol Lane", 2nd Avenue was "Candle Light Lane", 3rd Avenue was "Christmas Scroll Lane", 19th Street became the new "Santa Claus Lane" and 20th Street gained a regiment of giant toy soldiers.
The living tree in the park, damaged by the decorating process, was replaced with a new tree in 1966. To avoid damaging the new tree, lights and ornaments were hung from a steel frame erected around the tree. That year's celebration included the first official Birmingham Christmas Parade which proceeded down 20th Street to 2nd Avenue, then west one block and back up 19th Street.
Since the park was renovated and reopened as Linn Park, a cut tree has been brought in each year for seasonal display. The 35-foot-tall North Carolina-grown Norwegian spruce put up in 2010 was destroyed by a fire caused by thieves attempting to remove the copper wiring from the lights. The Cox Media Group, owners of several radio stations in the city, donated a new 35-foot Leyland cypress from the Pine Hill Farms in Tarrant. Craneworks donated their services to erect the tree and area residents were invited to bring ornaments.
Other notable public trees in Birmingham include the enormous tree graphic occupying one facade of the 20-story Regions Center building, and a small tree launched on a floating platform into the pond at the Railroad Park in 2010.
In the late 1950s, additional "trees" shaped from lights adorned Vulcan's tower and the south side of the Alabama Power Building. In 1964 the tree at Vulcan park was used to indicate tuberculosis diagnoses during a Christmas Seals campaign to fund free chest X-rays. Like Vulcan's torch turned red for traffic fatalities, a red light on the tree indicated a new diagnosis.
- "No red flashes on tree of hope." (November 1964) The Birmingham News
- Hollis, Tim (December 2010) "A Growing Tradition: Downtown Christmas trees have long brought a holiday spirit to Birmingham." Birmingham magazine. p. 40
- Bryant, Joseph D. (December 15, 2010) "Copper thieves burn down City of Birmingham's Christmas tree." The Birmingham News