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Massive Christmas tree returns to Rice Park after 3-year absence

Massive Christmas tree returns to Rice Park after 3-year absence
Massive Christmas tree returns to Rice Park after 3-year absence 01:54

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Between bulbs, branches and boxes, it's been a busy week of decorating in St. Paul's Rice Park.  The park is set to dazzle this holiday season, as a new Christmas tree will call the park home until the end of the year.

"Having this holiday tradition is really important to a lot of families. Not just downtown or in St. Paul, but across the metro," St. Paul Downtown Alliance President Joe Spencer said. "We're just thrilled to have it come back."

Rice Park spent the last three years without its Christmas centerpiece, but now, thanks to a partnership between St. Paul's Downtown Alliance and the Salvation Army, it's back.

"COVID really caused a lot of things to take a step back, but now we're emerging out of that," Salvation Army Divisional Commander Lt. Col. Dan Jennings said. "It's great to have the tree up again. It just stands as a great beacon of light. We're coming back together."

Come Saturday, the 40 foot tall tree will glow with more than 25,000 lights.

"This amazing tree is just gonna come to life," Spencer said. "It really will be stunningly beautiful."

It's a beauty that stands for more than just holiday spirit. As the Salvation Army prepares to kick off its Red Kettle Campaign, it's a reminder that we are better together.

"We have had years that have been difficult. Years the need was high, but we've never seen the need at the same level that it is this year," Lt. Col. Jennings said. "This is absolutely unprecedented for us."

During the Red Kettle Campaign, the non-profit is hoping to raise $12.5 million. The money helps fund Salvation Army Services, like feeding and housing programs, throughout the entire year. Fundraising goes until the end of the year.

The "Tree of Lights" will glow up Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in Rice Park. There will be live music, refreshments and guest speakers, including Mayor Melvin Carter, at the tree lighting. 

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