Fort Pierre’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Will Be Held Friday, November 25th –
Chili/Soup Challenge, Residential Lighting Contest & More!
Fort Pierre, SD – Fort Pierre Development Corporation is holding Fort Pierre’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Contest a week earlier, the day after Thanksgiving, to coordinate with the City’s street decorating schedule. According to Sunny Hannum, FPDC Office Manager, “Holding the event a week earlier could mean warmer weather.”
Hannum said, “We have shortened the program and will be offering wagon rides and chili tasting simultaneously from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. That way people will be able to eat while they are waiting for a ride or vice versa.” A free will donation is taken to pay a resident’s heating bills.
Fort Pierre’s Middle School and High School Students under the direction of Tina England will give a short concert of Christmas carols at 6:15. Dakota Cruiser will play music during the wagon rides and Santa will appear. The switch to light the tree will be thrown at 6:30 p.m.
“The Fort Pierre tree lighting began some time in the 1950s or ‘60s, sponsored by the fire department. It died down for a while, but was resurrected in the 1980s” Hannum said. It is quite possible the event is 75 years old. The Fort Pierre Development Corporation took over the tree lighting in 2005.
According to long-time resident, Pat Duffy, now in her 90s, the first Christmas trees were brought from the Black Hills by the Fort Pierre Fire Department who attached wires from the top of the tree to nearby buildings to keep it upright in the center of Main Avenue and Deadwood Street intersection. On more than one occasion a wind would blow the tree down and it would have to be raised again. Finally, the City of Fort Pierre created a manhole just for the tree in the center of the intersection.
This year’s tree was donated by Tim and Holly Carey of Pierre. Dave Bonde, FPDC Executive Director, usually begins looking for the tree mid-summer. Last year’s tree was from the same yard as the Capitol Rotunda tree. FPDC usually gets calls from people who have trees that they want removed. The tree has to be accessible and in good shape. The City cuts the tree down, A-G-E Corporation moves it to Fort Pierre and the City sets it in place and decorates it.
The deadline for chili and soup entries is Monday, November 21st. The deadline for residential lighting decorations is Friday, December 16th. Please call the FPDC Office at 605-223-7603 or email fpdc@fortPierre.com with chili and/or soup entries.
Please send a photo of your nomination for residential lighting winner to email@example.com. The winner will be selected from the photos and given a $25 gift certificate to Lynn’s Dakotamart in Fort Pierre. Business Lighting Decorations will be judged by the FPDC Board of Directors.
Sponsors for this year’s Christmas Tree Lighting & Cowboy Christmas are: Tim & Holly Carey, Community Youth Involved, Lynn’s Dakotamart, A-G-E Construction, City Employees, Tina England & Stanley County Schools, Dakota Radio Group, Santa Larry Johnson and wagon masters Joe Thorne, Beth Carr Briggs, and Sam Seymour.