It’s beginning to look like an Arizona Christmas in downtown Chandler.
Chandler Parks Department workers are expected to complete by Wednesday construction of this year’s 30-foot tumbleweed tree at Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, just in time for Saturday’s 24th annual parade of lights followed by the 57th lighting of the tumbleweed tree.
The city expects nearly 12,000 people to join in celebrating the unique southwestern holiday tradition, but Chandler’s annual Christmas tree is beginning to get some national attention as well.
The tumbleweed tree is pictured in the December issue of National Geographic magazine, with a one-sentence mention in a story about the actual type of weeds. The mention comes near the end of the story.
Of perhaps more significance, this year’s lighting ceremony picked up the Ford Motor Co. as a national sponsor. As a presenting sponsor, Ford will participate in the tree-lighting festivities, which begin at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
The parade of lights follows at 7, and the actual tree lightning will be about 8 near the corner of Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard. All festivities are free of charge.
“This time of year, I always think back to my childhood, being in the downtown square during the holidays and enjoying the sights and sounds,” said Mayor Jay Tibshraeny, who grew up in Chandler. “I hope Chandler’s Tumbleweed Tree lighting and Parade of Lights, bring those same emotions to the thousands of people who attend the event each year. It truly is a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season.”
Parks department workers begin gathering the tumbleweeds early in the fall. It takes about 1,500 tumbleweeds to construct the tree each year.
The weeds are attached to a chicken-wire frame around a 25-foot pole. Once attached to the frame, the weeds are covered with 20 gallons of fire retardant, 25 gallons of white paint and sprayed with about 65 pounds of glitter. Finally, the tree is decorated with 1,200 lights and a star at the top.
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