Redding’s Christmas Tree: A Local Tradition Since 1919

Guest Writer Spotlight: Jeremy M. Tuggle – Shasta Historical Society

A crowd gathers to attend the lighting of the Redding Christmas tree in 1933. The tree is topped with a neon star. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

This holiday favorite was originated in 1919 by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), who cut the first evergreen to be placed on display in the city from McComber Lake in Shasta County. The tree was then transported by truck to the intersection of Market and Yuba Streets in downtown Redding for its placing. The tree could be of any size if they were fully branched without missing spaces. The Christmas tree would often stay standing until after the New Year had arrive, then it was dismantled.

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Each year, the tree was crowned with a beautiful neon star on the top of the tree. Then in December of 1929, the Redding Christmas tree was measured at 73 feet high, and it was donated to the PG&E by two residents from La Moine. The date of December 20th, 1929 was selected for the big party at the intersection of Market and Yuba Streets. 

To help the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, a general committee was organized about 1930 which was comprised of Mayor William Menzel, Chairman; Ben Mason, and K.A. Walker. This committee would organize the upcoming Christmas tree festivities and other Christmas events. New delegates would be chosen to this committee in the future as well. In 1930, twenty-five hundred boxes were ordered to place gifts inside them for the children of Shasta and Trinity Counties in Redding, and gifts were purchased to be placed inside these boxes. 

Officials selected November 28th, 1930 for the beginning of the holiday season, in which Redding stores celebrated by decorating their window displays and buildings for Christmas. Also, some stores reduced their prices as well. Stores along Market Street stayed opened later to attract as many customers as they could. Hundreds of people gathered to be present for the highlights that evening while Redding lacked a Christmas tree. It was S.G. Nelson of the McCormick-Saeltzer Company who donated the Christmas tree which he planned on cutting down with the help of W.D. Simons, Earl Lee Kelley, K.A. Walker, Dr. H.C. Erno, Ben Mason, James Holt, Mayor William Menzel, Augustas H. Gronwoldt and Lyle Sarvis. The tree was transported to Redding from La Moine by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company in one of their trucks. Later, the Christmas tree was dedicated on December 15, 1930.

Each year, new ideas were presented, and the dates were pushed back earlier, or moved forward later for the lighting of the Redding Christmas tree and other festivities to be included during this joyful event. The intersection of Market and Yuba Streets was used up until 1970 (a total of fifty-one years) according to several Shasta Historical Society members who remembered it well. The Christmas tree was relocated around that time period to the parking structure on California Street (which is now being demolished). The construction of the downtown Redding Mall is the reason why the Christmas tree was relocated there. The downtown Redding Mall was opened by August of 1972.

SEE OTHER RECENT ARTICLES BY JEREMY M. TUGGLE:

The Lorenz Hotel

Bella Vista: A lumber town

From Shingle Camp to Shingletown

The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company building; and the history of the telephone in Redding

After forty-nine years, the Christmas tree will be back in its original location at Market and Yuba Streets on December 6, 2019 which will be dedicated that night at Winter Fest. Older residents still recall and cherish their memories of having the Christmas tree at that location. This time, a whole new generation will be able to create memories with their families and loved ones at the original site. This year also marks the one hundredth anniversary of this Christmas tradition. 

The green paint on the ground represents where the Christmas tree will be dedicated at Market and Yuba Streets on December 6, 2019 during Winter Fest. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on November 7, 2019.

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RESOURCES:

Redding To Have Giant Christmas Tree For All Children Of The County – The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, December 11, 1925

Redding Community Tree Is 73 Feet High – The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, December 16, 1929

Christmas Party’s Leaders Named – The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, November 22, 1930

Christmas Season Opens At 7:30; Visit Redding Stores Tonight – The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, November 28, 1930

Christmas Opening Crowds Local Stores – The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, November 29, 1930

Party Organized To Get Christmas Tree For Christmass Fete – The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, December 9, 1930

Christmas Tree Put Up On Monday – The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, December 15, 1930

The Covered Wagon 1954, published annually by Shasta Historical Society.

The Christmas Tree – The Shasta Shopper, December 17, 1987

Redding’s Christmas Tree is finally coming home – and staying downtown, by David Benda, The Record Searchlight newspaper of Redding, November 2, 2019

A Timeline of Redding Development Growth Destruction and Rebirth by David McCullough


Meet the writer: Jeremy M. Tuggle
Education and Community Engagement Manager – Shasta Historical Society

Jeremy M. Tuggle, born in Redding, is a descendant of 11 pioneer families who settled Shasta County between 1849-1889. Jeremy attended Shasta College and is the author of two published books, Rooted in Shasta County (2003), and A Journey Through Time: Ono and the Bald Hills (2008), as well as various articles on local history.

In 2017 Mr. Tuggle was awarded a Community Service Award, a prestigious national award for community service in historic preservation, by the Major Pierson B. Reading Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Jeremy is a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of California, and an Eagle Scout.

Tuggle has been employed at the Shasta Historical Society since November of 2009. In his present role as Education & Community Engagement Manager, Jeremy conducts research for the historical society’s programs and events, contributes to the Society’s social media presence, and ensures the highest quality guest and patron experience at our programs and community events.

Mr. Tuggle enjoys sharing his knowledge of local history and events, and is available to community organizations to present programs about Shasta County history.

This article sponsored by:

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Want to be featured in a future “Guest Writer Spotlight” article? Contact the editor: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.

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