Syracuse Christmas Tree Lighting Goes Virtual Syracuse Tree Lighting Goes Virtual

SYRACUSE, New York (NCC NEWS) — Since 1913, a Christmas tree has been lit the day after Thanksgiving in Clinton Square every year but one. The only exception was during World War I.

This tradition will continue despite a global pandemic that has soiled so many traditions across the world. It will just be online this time instead, which could actually be a positive in some ways according to Parks and Recreation Commissioner Julie LaFave.

“What’s great is in the past the tree lighting was just a half-hour and then that’s it, you go home,” LaFave said. “Now if you miss it at 6 o’clock the day after Thanksgiving, you have a whole month to watch it.”

The artificial tree will be lit live on the city’s YouTube channel and the Facebook pages of the Mayor and the Parks and Recreation department.

Even though it has taken a lot to put together the hour-long virtual spectacle, skipping a Christmas tree lighting in Clinton Square was simply not an option for those involved.

“This is a cherished tradition here in the city of Syracuse,” Mayor Ben Walsh said. “It’s one that we were not going to let the pandemic stop us from doing.”

 “We knew that we could not responsibly have 5000 people gathered here with no way to separate them,” LaFave said. “But, we know this is a beloved tradition.”

The actual event will involve a large collection of musical acts before the tree is lit up at the end. Some of those scheduled to perform on late notice are large national acts, including one band with a number one single

“So it’s Shaed and AJR,” LaFave said. “They volunteered, they wanted to play in this and they’re doing it for free.”

That kind of holiday spirit has encapsulated this month-long effort to hold onto a favorite tradition. The media company putting the event together, Cumulus Media, is also doing the deed for free.

It will all go down the 27th of November at 6 PM, on the previously listed online sites with more expected to be added in the coming weeks. It will also be available in 18 languages.

“We’re really proud of what we’re putting together,” LaFave said. 

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