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About 300 celebrate Ripons Christmas Tree Lighting
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Colorful tree lights were turned on Monday night to a crowd of some 300 Riponites who had turned out for the event. The 110 foot height of the tree dwarfs the Veterans Memorial building at right. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Anna Fassler took time out from her studies Monday for civic duty.

The California State University, Stanislaus freshman and reigning Almond Blossom queen was called upon to handle the ceremonious Christmas Tree Lighting at the Ripon Veterans Museum.

“I’ve lived in Ripon all of my life but this is my first time coming to the Christmas Tree Lighting,” said Fassler, who is majoring in Business. “I was really impressed with the turnout.”

The annual event sponsored by the Ripon Chamber of Commerce and the City of Ripon brought out close to 300 folks, including families, city officials and dignitaries on a pleasant evening featuring temperatures hovering in the mid-50s.

“It’s a beautiful night,” Chamber Executive Director Tamra Spade said. “This location at the Veterans’ Wall is great – it’s in downtown for everyone to see.”

She’s hoping that the Veterans Museum location will be a start of a new tradition in Ripon.

About 2,500 LED lights purchased from nearby Schemper’s Ace Hardware were needed to drape over the 90-foot evergreen.

According to Spade, the cost came out to $2,500, with the Chamber forking out $1,500 for the energy-efficient light and the City chipping in $1,000.

David Murphy of Commercial Tree Care and the Public Works Department under director Ted Johnston spent the past two days getting the tree ready for the event. Work started at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

“They finally finished at 3 p.m. today,” said Spade.

The tree was topped off by a large star consisting of 250 additional lights.

For the entire month, the tree will stay lit at night for all to see, Spade added.

The tree-lighting event also included Pastor Glen Shirk of the Ripon Grace Brethren Church providing the blessing for the holidays while the Ripon Christian High choir, Knight Sounds, performed Christmas Carols.

Mayor Dean Uecker led those attending the community event in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The most anticipated moment was the lighting of the tree. Last year’s event was held across town at Stouffer Park.

“I would love it if it stayed downtown,” said Chamber President Janell Zuidervaart.

She was overwhelmed with the crowd’s reaction with the unveiling of the tree lighting.

“I just loved seeing everybody’s reaction when the lights went on,” Zuidervaart said.

Fassler, who is a 2013 graduate of Ripon High, also remembered the moment. “It was fantastic to see the (Christmas) tree,” she said.

The event also made for a good time out. “Finals are next week so it’s been stressful,” Fassler said.