Lighted Tree on Bluff Started Out as Prank - The Missourian: Pacific

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Lighted Tree on Bluff Started Out as Prank

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Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013 2:45 pm

The lighted Christmas tree on the bluff at Blackburn Park is one of the mainstays heralding the Christmas season in Pacific.

In a tradition that dates back more than 70 years, the Pacific Lions Club installs the tree, which is now created solely with oversized red light bulbs.

For decades, beginning in the 1930s, Lions Club members drove into Little Ireland, near St. Joseph Hill Infirmary, cut down the largest evergreen they could find and pulled it through town followed by a trail of local boys.

Before the tree was placed at the edge of the bluff for all to see, an earlier Christmas tree brought in the Pacific Christmas shopping season. It was much smaller and sat on a pedestal that stood in the center of the intersection of St. Louis and First streets.

The tree greeted Christmas shoppers, who could buy almost anything they desired in the scores of St. Louis Street stores.

An act that two local boys thought was a fun prank turned out to determine the location of the town Christmas tree to this day.

One evening, before a 1930s Christmas, the late Johnny Faszold and Joe McHugh lifted the tree from its base and carried it to Blackburn Park and set it close to the edge of the bluff so it could be seen.

The following morning, the town was baffled that anyone would be so unfriendly as to take the town Christmas tree. When someone finally noticed it up on the bluff, several of the men said they would go up and retrieve it, but on second thought, the shoppers thought it looked so good it was decided to leave it there.

The following year, the Lions Club started the tradition of putting a much bigger tree on the bluff.

As word spread through the town that the big tree was being set up, townspeople gathered at the foot of the bluff and sang carols, starting another annual tradition that lasted for decades.

In recent years, the tree is created by lights strung on a pole close to the bluff edge that can be seen throughout the town and traveling from each direction on Osage, or Historic Route 66.

This year, on a recent blustery cold morning, members of the Lions Club put up the tree silhouette.

Members will do the whole exercise in reverse on the Saturday after Christmas, storing the bulbs until next year.

/local_news/pacific