The Official Los Angeles Christmas Tree

San Francisco gets it. Los Angeles does not.

You hate to hear it. You hate to even think about it. But, deep down, you know it’s the truth. San Francisco is winning the holiday game. You can’t see it on the scoreboard, because we haven’t built it yet.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Los Angeles. It’s where I live, work, and play. I want it to be the city we all know it can be. I want to believe that L.A. does holiday better than anyone. Boston. New York. Chicago. San Francisco.

But, it doesn’t.

Photo of what looks to be Pershing Square, but isn’t, courtesy of etslee’s flickr stream


I drove to San Francisco the day after Thanksgiving because I wanted that Christmas feeling. You know, the one you see on TV with downtown streets covered in lights and smiling shoppers. We don’t have that here. We have people in cars, honking their way to a Best Buy, or Target, in places like Burbank, or Santa Monica. Decorations consist of paper stars hanging from light poles on Ventura Boulevard.

And then there’s the tree. Ask anyone you know where the official Los Angeles Christmas tree-lighting ceremony takes place and you’ll probably draw a blank stare and a giggle, because they don’t know either. They might guess The Grove, or City Hall. They may or may not be right.

Thousands of people clogged the streets of Downtown San Francisco Friday night. Officers on horseback flanked Union Square, where an 85-foot California White Fir – a gift to the city from Macy’s – was illuminated to ring in the holiday season. It felt festive. It felt like Christmas.

It felt unfair.

Let’s hope that one day we’ll see the same in Pershing Square. Of course, we’ll want a bigger tree. We’re Los Angeles.

13 Replies to “The Official Los Angeles Christmas Tree”

  1. Not to sound like some sort of radical greeniem=, which I am not. But in a way I am glad we don’t kill some majestic tree just to toss lights on it for 3 weeks then mulch it at the end of the holiday. Not to mention in this climate the become kindling dry really fast ready to explode into flame any minute.

    If they were to bring in live giant spruce and light it, now we’re talking. A great example of a huge evergreen growing in one spot for 50+ years run you little buns up to Monrovia’s Library Park. Our beast is hugogigantic and the entire town turns out for the grand lighting in early December that coincides with our Christmas parade. (Yeah, its hokey but some traditions just need to be enjoyed forever as the bring out the community for at least one night of fun).

  2. Rode past City Hall last night. There seemed to be a large tree in front. Not lit up (yet). Just sayin’. Or I could have been hallucinating, it was late.

  3. Travis thanks. But that makes decorating a dead tree even sicker when you send it to the morticians cosmetician to make it look better.
    Make up , eh, what’s next jewelry and piercings, a nice tatoo on the stump?

  4. On the one hand, it is kind of sad to kill a majestic tree like that…but it’s a symbol of unity for a city that’s not so united. I’d love to see everyone get together in Pershing Square, lighting up the night. If that could be coupled with a tree-planting program, you’d have a net gain, wouldn’t ya?

  5. It’s a shame that almost everywhere else there is some sort of civic pride to these sorts of things, but in LA no one cares. I can’t stand the Christmas season (Sept. – Jan.), but I’m from Kansas City originally and the best thing Thanksgiving evening was the Lights on the Plaza. There isn’t anything in all of SoCal that can touch that. I would have said, California, but I was in SF 5 days before Christmas last year and the only thing missing was snow.

  6. Halloween got cancelled in Frisco, while it still was business as usual along Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood. So there.

    And the Xmas tree in front of LA City Hall, since it has decorations hanging on it, in some ways actually looks more Christmasty than the tree in Union Square.

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