When West St. Paul residents James and Rebecca Dreyling donated a surreally humongous 78-foot-tall Colorado Blue Spruce to downtown St. Paul's Rice Park Wells Fargo Winter Skate, they gave the park the gift of ultimate Christmas/holiday tree bragging rights. The 28-foot-wide tree has twice as many lights as the tree in New York's Rockefeller Center. The tree also trumps its crosstown rivals. It's more than 20 feet taller than Hamm Plaza's tree. The tree in Ecolab Plaza? A relatively puny 45 feet tall. The Rice Park tree's 60,000 lights are going to be on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since the switch was thrown on November 24 through December 31. That's 38 full days of nonstop lighting. But Sue Gonsier, the director of communications at Capitol City Partnership, the nonprofit organizing the event, says that around-the-clock lighting makes sense. A lot of people come see the tree long after midnight, she says, and it's actually cheaper to keep the lights turned on rather than switching them off for a while and then turning them back on. And next year, the tree will step up its environmental consciousness—incandescent bulbs will become a ghost of holiday tree past, and strictly LED lights will adorn the tree.
Dec. 12-Jan. 1, 2007