Monday, December 1, 2008
Christmas Tree Lighting, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Nov 28, 2008
The beautiful result of lots and lots of hours of work and the flip of a switch. Now for the story, as I experienced it.
Darkness all around. Only the ambient light from traffic signals and stores across the street lit the area. People everywhere. Walking, pushing strollers, looking for the best spot to witness the spectacle when the Christmas tree's lights came on. Twined throughout the 75-foot tall Douglas Fir, two and a half miles of lights, 15,000 energy-efficient LED bulbs in all. I took this photo the split second the countdown from 10 to 1 ended.
Two seconds later I took this photo, my third shot--the second one had the back of a man's head in it. You can see that the lights also appeared on the Jackson Tower. The streak of light at the top of the tree is on the Fox Tower, and it was on the entire time. I like the way it resembles a comet, frozen in the night sky.
Stimson Lumber donated the tree; Globe Lighting donated the bulbs, ones they say will use 91 percent less energy and last for 10 to 15 years. As soon as I could move, in a crowd estimated at 10,000, I made my way south in order to get another photo, without the Fox Tower in the background.
Then I walked east, across SW 6th Avenue, for more photos. In this one, you can see the lights strung in a tree on the sidewalk and the streetlights, too, plus some of the crowd.
Something I really enjoyed happened while I stood on the sidewalk, deciding whether to walk to the bus or ride the MAX. First, I offered to take a photo of a young couple and their child, riding on her dad's back in a carrier. Next a young couple asked me to get their photo, too. And in a few moments, two young girls asked the same thing. Smiles all around. I'm smiling, too, at this next photo of the lighted tree.
After riding the MAX, then the bus home, hours later I saw the lighting ceremony at 11 p.m. on News Channel 8 KGW, our NBC affiliate, and noticed that all of the lights in the trees around the square came on, too, as did the street lights. The helicopter got a fantastic shot of the darkness, then the lights appearing almost simultaneously. It was a brilliant moment.