Grand Rapids holiday tradition saved by donations

Photo+by+Katelyn+Bosch

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Photo by Katelyn Bosch

The Christmas spirit was made brighter this past Thursday in downtown Grand Rapids with the annual lighting of the Christmas tree at Rosa Parks Circle, an event that was only made possible through the season of giving and generous donations from several local businesses.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) usually hosts the event by providing the tree and its installation and rigging as well as the lights to adorn it, but this year the GRAM announced that this would not be the case due to unforeseen financial concerns involving the need to replace the tree’s 40,000 LED lights. The nearly $50,000 required to complete the task was not available, and the GRAM cancelled the event, stating it would go on only if funding became available.

When this news was made public, more than 40 businesses in the Grand Rapids area embraced their role in the community and agreed to give $1,000 to support the event, raising enough money to allow the nine-year-old tradition to mark the start of the Grand Rapids Holiday Celebration this year, as well as the next two years, according to MLive.

This year, the tree is a blue spruce from Dutchman Tree Farms in Manton, Mich., and is 47 feet tall by 18 feet wide and weighs 5,000 pounds, according to WoodTV.

There to light to the tree was a three-year-old who is undergoing treatment for leukemia and is from the Make-A-Wish foundation. The rest of the night included carols sang by Opera Grand Rapids, a speech from Grand Rapids’ mayor-elect and an ice skating performance by a Grand Rapids Club figure skater, according to MLive. Attendees were also offered free admission to the GRAM and hot chocolate courtesy of the Amway Grand Plaza.

Following the lighting of the tree, the ice skating rink at Rosa Parks Circle was opened, allowing the public to rent ice skates for $2 and use the outdoor rink.