For those passing through downtown Victoria, a 30-foot tree has sprouted from the pavement, complete with 1,650 ornaments, music playing from within the tree, dazzling colored lights and topped with a 3-foot shining star.

Dubbed the H-E-B Christmas Tree, the tree has been planned since February. This will be the first time the city has put up an artificial tree instead of a live one, said Danielle Williams, Victoria Main Street Program executive director.

“I wanted to bring back a tradition to downtown,” Williams said. “And it’s part of all of our efforts with (the Victoria Main Street Program) to try to activate downtown and get people back in downtown whether it be to shop, eat.”

Anchoring the tree down are five 1,750-pound ballast weights — each to guard the tree against the winter wind, said Elizabeth Berger, vice president of sales and design for Sherrariums Plantscaping, a Houston-based, woman-owned interiorscape firm offering commercial plant design.

Berger’s team began the process of putting up the tree on Friday afternoon and was completed by the end of the weekend.

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The artificial sequoia tree is set up with two speakers inside it that will play Christmas music. It also is wrapped with 182 strands of lights and has 178 branches plus a top section, she said. The lights are programmed to sync with the music causing the lights to change as well.

The city council approved the tree’s $92,361 cost. So far, more than $67,000 have been donated through a fundraising campaign to purchase the tree, Williams said.

The tree, which sits in the middle of West Forrest Street, will be up until the second week of January. West Forrest Street will be closed from the intersection of North Main Street to North Bridge Street, she said.

A virtual tree lighting ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 4 and will be livestreamed on Facebook via the city of Victoria’s Facebook page and the Main Street Facebook page.

“We know it’s been tough for everybody this year, and I think this is something we can all enjoy that’s new, fun and exciting whereas a lot of people haven’t gotten to do most of any events,” Williams said. “I think this is a safe way to just enjoy and embrace the Christmas spirit.”

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Duy Vu is a photojournalist for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach him at 361-574-1204.

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Staff photojournalist

I was born in Vietnam and left to settle in the United States at the age of four. A Texan by heart — I lived in Arlington for nearly two decades and graduated from The University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in journalism.

(1) comment

Glenn Wilson

Very attractive. A high-five and an atta-boy to all directly concerned, especially those who did the actual work. Great job. Thanx. A must-see for the 5% or so of Victorians who put down the remote or phone and go do stuff.

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