Move over, New York City. Salida’s got something even better – higher and brighter—than the lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center. How about a 750 foot tall Christmas tree? Not just a tree either; it’s a whole Christmas Mountain. Locals say it’s the world’s largest Christmas tree with the magical power to transform Salida into Christmas Town and Riverside Park into Holiday Park, too.
Lighting ‘Christmas Mountain’ has been a tradition in Salida only since 1989. A now-retired electrical contractor gathered his crew to decorate the mountain with 220 colored flood lights powered by 22,000 watts of electricity (think: BIG electricity bill). The effect looked good to planes flying overhead, but from town it appeared to be just a bunch of big light bulbs.
In 1990 surveyors sketched a mountain-sized tree and volunteers strung extension cords and Christmas lights on the steep and rocky face of the mountain, strung up on metal rebar. This time, when the lights came on, the display was a big success and the tradition that we know and love was embraced. The glowing effect is accomplished with green lights outlining the tree and its garland, while red, orange and white lights create ornaments to complete the picture. This giant Christmas tree is topped with a large sparkling star visible over the Arkansas River Valley for miles and miles.
This much-anticipated tree lighting is always held the Friday evening after Thanksgiving. Join us as we gather with friends and neighbors and countdown to the tree lighting.
Read more about this tradition and others here:
The Mountain Lights up Tonight; Here’s A Brief History of Christmas Mountain – by Brooke Gilmore – Ark Valley Voice
Christmas Mountain – Salida Chamber of Commerce