PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A steady downpour did not stop a crowd from filling Pioneer Courthouse Square for the 30th annual Holiday Tree lighting in downtown Portland.
The fully decorated 75-foot-tall, 43-year-old Douglas Firtree lit up around 6:16 p.m., about 45 minutes after a ceremony began that included Thomas Lauderdale of Pink Martini leading a sing-along.
The tree, donated for the 12th year by Stimson Lumber, arrived at the central city location after a parade from Portland State University Wednesday on Nov. 14.
Chatter on social media sites indicated social justice demonstrators would try to interrupt the ceremony. In the wake of a grand jury’s decision Monday not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the group DON’T SHOOT PORTLAND #PDX #Ferguson held events in Portland.
Comments posted to the group’s Facebook page suggests the group planned an action at 5:30 p.m. at Pioneer Courthouse Square. An action in Gresham was also planned, according to the Facebook page of the group March Against The Police in Solidarity With Ferguson (Gresham, OR in Rockwood).
However, as of 5:40 p.m., KOIN 6 was unable to find any demonstrators on the scene. Furthermore, a link to a Facebook event, apparently the Nov. 28 action, displayed a “content is currently not available” notice.
Statement from Charlie Hales
Mayor Charlie Hales presented Stimson’s Lumber’s Ray Jones with a bronze brick to be installed on the square.
“The holiday tree is part and parcel of our holiday traditions in Portland. We’re grateful to Stimson for this generous gift,” Hales said.
The five-year-long search for the city’s tree covers sustainable forests owned by Stimson.
The tree will remain through the new year and nearly forty free events will take place under the tree including the Holiday Ale Festival, The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Contest, Tuba Christmas, and seasonal student music performances.
Zoo lights display opens
Across town, thousands more braved the elements for the opening of the Oregon Zoo’s festive display of nearly 2 million lights.
The zoo trains have returned from a on-year hiatus, during the building of the new track — much to the enthusiasm of young riders.
One patron, Kinsey Parker, said she is ready to dive into the holiday spirit. “We’re going to make every day count up to Christmas.”