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Let there be light!
MON Ripon Tree DSC 2244
Professional arborist Dave Murphy throws a drag rope from the top of the 110-foot tree to his assistants below. Murphy climbed up through the branches in his harness three different times during the day, volunteering his time. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

The official lighting of the 110-foot high Christmas tree in Ripon will take place tonight at 7  at the corner of First Street and Locust Avenue.

Many are expected to arrive early under the branches at the Veterans’ Memorial Park to see Santa arrive and to hear the members of the Ripon Christian High School Choir caroling along with Pastor Chuck Roots’ Barbershop Quartet.  A season’s blessing will come from Pastor Glen Shirk of Ripon Grace Brethren Church.  The aroma of hot cocoa and cookies is expected to fill the air.

Miss Almond Blossom Anna Fassler is scheduled to ceremoniously turn on the string of lights at the top of the hour.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tamra Spade enlisted the aid of her personal arborist on Sunday, Dave Murphy, along with a number of community volunteers, including Public Works Director Ted Johnston and others who laid out the strings on the ground and sent them up on ropes to the top of the tree. 

Even Spade’s 10-year-old daughter Kali was busy Saturday night stringing lights on their living room floor. 

The 2,000 lights were paid for jointly by the City of Ripon and the Ripon Chamber of Commerce.  When Spade made her presentation before the city council asking for funds, Vice Mayor Chuck Winn asked if she was going to have a star on top of the tree.  Of course she was, and she soon found a star that the City of Antioch had replaced in their decorations this year.

The lights cost the project some $2,500 and came with a discount from Ripon’s Schemper’s Hardware.  Last year the Christmas tree was at Stouffer’s Park and before that behind the Mistlin Fountain at the Main Street and Second Avenue freeway off ramp.  A check with a commercial tree trimmer asking for a quote on the project came in at $3,000.  Thanks to Murphy the chamber was able to handle the project for much less.

Murphy donned his safety harness and scaled the truck of the tree three times before the daylong effort was completed.  The work began at 9 a.m. and continued until dusk Sunday evening.

Ripon Historian Helen Whitmore was out taking a walk when she came upon the light stringing activity and stopped to help staying most of the day.  Bob McBrian whose family owned the Ripon Record for years and who lives next to the Memorial Park walked over and volunteered his time as did Bill Dishman who lives a short half block away.  Also on the team was Randy Stevens who has been a past tree trimmer with arborist Dave Murphy.

It was not the first light stringing job for Murphy this past week.  He had also answered calls from the cities of Campbell and Palo Alto.