Big Christmas tree tradition blooms into many smaller ones

  • Written by Susan Gilmore
  • Published in Local
Caroling is part of the festivities at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish’s annual tree lighting ceremony. This year’s event is Dec. 5. Photo: Cindy Hegland Caroling is part of the festivities at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish’s annual tree lighting ceremony. This year’s event is Dec. 5. Photo: Cindy Hegland

SEATTLE – For nearly a decade, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in West Seattle has lit up the huge Douglas fir standing outside the church, which sits on the highest hill in the city.

But with the fir now reaching 85 feet tall, lighting it this year would have cost the parish $4,000 — for insurance and hiring a company to hang the lights.

“Sending parishioners 85 feet high … wasn’t the wisest thing to do. It wasn’t good stewardship,” said Father Jack Walmesley, Our Lady of Guadalupe’s pastor. So this year there will be a series of smaller trees between the church and the new parish center, creating a walkway of lights. “We’ll light the trees near ground level and call it ‘Light Up the Night,’” he said.

The Dec. 5 lighting ceremony, expected to draw 500 people from the surrounding High Point neighborhood, is part of the parish’s celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The 7 p.m. event, a combined effort of the parish and its school, will include music, caroling, homemade cookies, games and collecting food for the poor.

“The spirit of this celebration has always been about the community, including the volunteers who help put on this event,” school development director Chantille Henry recently wrote in the parish bulletin. “So to honor them, and in the spirit of the event, we have decided to light up the grounds around Our Lady of Guadalupe Church instead of the large tree.”

The festivities don’t end that night. On Sunday, Dec. 7, the parish will celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the 11 a.m. Mass with a pageant sponsored by the school’s eighth-graders. A fiesta will follow in the Walmesley Center. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is located at 3401 S. Myrtle St.

Video: West Seattle Blog