Around the country, it’s time to light trees

The lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York is probably the most famous celebration of its kind, and this year it will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.

If you’re not among the thousands crowding in to watch the event live in midtown Manhattan, you can watch from home on TV or stop by in person any time through Jan. 3.

But there are many tree lightings and other stupendous displays. Here are some from around the country.

In Washington, D.C., the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place at 5 p.m. Dec. 6 at the White House Ellipse. Tickets are required; details at 202-208-1631. Entertainers and a military band perform and President Bush will speak. On Dec. 5 at 5 p.m., the Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

In Los Angeles on Nov. 18, celebrities including Patti Labelle and Smokey Robinson appeared at The Grove for an annual Christmas tree-lighting, Hollywood-style. At the California state capitol in Sacramento, the tree-lighting will be on Dec. 4. Last year Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who officiates at the ceremony with his wife, Maria Shriver, took the bold step of calling it a Christmas tree, ending the use of the term “holiday tree.”

On Christmas Eve in Louisiana, more than 100 bonfires are built along the bank of the Mississippi in the locales of Lutcher, Gramercy and Reserve. It’s an old Cajun tradition, to guide the way for “Papa Noel.” Gray Line offers a six-hour trip to see the event, departing at 3 p.m. from New Orleans, including a tour of the Destrehan Plantation and dinner. The cost is $73 for adults, $48 for children. Reservations can be made at 800-535-7786 or at

In Salt Lake City, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lit up trees in its downtown Temple Square at dark on the day after Thanksgiving.

In Boston, Nova Scotia sends a Christmas tree every year as thanks for relief sent from Massachusetts following the Halifax Explosion in 1917. This year’s tree, a 45-foot tall white spruce, will be lit Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Boston Common.

Chicago’s 94th annual tree-lighting ceremony took place Friday in Daley Plaza.

Cincinnati’s Norway spruce also was lit Friday at Fountain Square.

In Detroit, a tree was lit Nov. 16 at Campus Martius Park, with festivities including ice skating and carriage rides.

In Des Moines, Iowa, the city hosts a nighttime drive-through lighting display called “Jolly Holiday Lights” at Waterworks Park that began on Nov. 20.

Atlanta’s tree-lighting tradition takes place on Thanksgiving at Macy’s in Lenox Square.

In West Virginia, Oglebay Resort &Conference Center in Wheeling has a huge Christmas light show that draws thousands annually. The display started Nov. 8 and lasts through Jan. 6.

Many tree-lightings around the country don’t involve evergreens. They consist of displays of thousands of lights strung together to look like trees.

In Charleston, S.C., the “tree” of lights will be lit Saturday in Marion Square. Kids love to run around beneath the illuminated “branches,” and the ceremony is followed by a parade of lit-up boats on the waterfront.

In Indianapolis, the holiday display also consists of thousands of lights. This year’s lighting at Monument Circle downtown took place Friday.

In downtown Pittsburgh, Pa., Light-Up Night took place Nov. 16. The corner of an old department store building is decorated with lights in the shape of a giant Christmas tree running several stories high. From the hills overlooking Pittsburgh, you can also see a tree-shaped cone of lights suspended over the fountain at the Point.

In Texas, on Dec. 2, Austin hosts the lighting of the Zilker Tree, which consists of 3,309 bulbs on 39 streamers strung from Austin’s Moonlight Tower. The tree is part of Zilker Metropolitan Park’s Trail of Lights Festival, a mile-long, walk-through display of lighted scenes including Santa’s House.

In Houston, the Uptown Holiday Lighting takes place the evening of Thanksgiving, when thousands gather along Post Oak Boulevard to watch fireworks and the illumination of a half-million lights and 80 trees along Post Oak Boulevard.

Spending the holidays in Hawaii? Stop by to see the tree in Honolulu. The tree is selected by Department of Parks and Recreation workers, who scope out a candidate from somewhere on Oahu and ask its owner to donate it. Then it’s transplanted and moved to City Hall. The tree will be lit Saturday at nightfall.

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