Pierce County kicks off Christmas season

Yuletide cheer was in the air Wednesday at the County-City Building as Pierce County celebrated its 11th annual Holiday Tree-Lighting Program.

Passersby and those gathered in the second floor lobby were treated to refreshments and the melodious sounds of the TotemAires Barbershop Chorus as part of the annual event, which signals the start of the winter holiday period for Pierce County.

People enjoyed hot beverages and snacks – and, of course, Christmas songs performed by the chorus – as they waited for the main event, the 4 p.m. lighting of the Christmas tree just outside the building’s second floor entrance.
With the arrival of Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, people headed outside on a crisp, clear fall day.

“Welcome to our holiday tree-lighting ceremony,” Ladenburg told the crowd, joking that it was cold enough to snow if only there were some clouds.

Noting the area behind the County-City Building where the temporary Pierce County Jail Annex used to be, Ladenburg said the site will be much more attractive during next year’s tree-lighting ceremony following about $1 million of work by the county.

Earlier this year, the prefabricated metal building – sometimes unaffectionately referred to as the “potato shed” by Pierce County judges – was disassembled by workers, and since replaced by a new nearby jail.

Plans call for the site to be reconfigured and landscaped as a parking lot for the County-City Building. The new entrance to that lot will be off South 11th Street.

Ladenburg went on to note there are many end-of-the-year celebrations that take place in this country.

In addition to the upcoming Christmas and Hanukah celebrations, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan recently concluded.

“I think that’s one of the most wonderful things about living in America,” he said, calling the diversity of holidays a sign of strength.

Ladenburg also had some practical advice for enjoying the holiday season.

“Don’t spend all your time at the mall, or at work,” he said, encouraging people to spend time with family and friends during this time of year.

To polite applause, Ladenburg flipped a switch turning on the multi-colored lights that decorate the county’s Christmas tree.

As people headed back inside for more refreshments and socializing – or to get back to work – the TotemAires Barbershop Chorus performed their rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Pierce County’s tree-lighting ceremony follows Tacoma’s annual holiday parade and tree-lighting ceremony, which was held on Nov. 30.

For those who can’t get enough of looking at Christmas trees, Tacoma’s tree is located at South Ninth St. and Broadway, next to the Pantages Theater.