In preparation for the annual Christmas Tree lighting on Saturday, Nov. 25, the city of Nampa, with help from Qualitree, will cut down a donated blue spruce tree and put it up at its new Downtown location Wednesday. That is, if Mother Nature cooperates and keeps the wind at bay so the tree can be safely downed and transported 6.5 miles down to 12th Avenue and Front Street from Quail Ridge Drive.
Joe Wheeler, owner of American Construction Supply, is donating the 35-foot evergreen in honor of his mother, Linda Lou Wheeler Carr, who died earlier this year at age 74.
“She was known as the Christmas Tree Queen,” Joe Wheeler recently said about his mother. Although she never decorated the 19-year-old tree in front the house, she enjoyed friendly competition when it came to decorating indoor Christmas trees.
Few people actually knew that Linda was always secretly making sure that others had good Christmases when they were in need. She intentionally kept that information to herself, Wheeler said. And she loved to celebrate the traditional 12 Days of Christmas.
When she died unexpectedly this spring, Wheeler said he thought it would be nice to honor her when he learned that the city was looking for a large blue spruce tree.
Jon Wakelam, owner of Qualitree, donates his services every year to cut down and transport the Christmas tree to its temporary home for the Christmas season.
The Nampa Parks Division will decorate the tree with approximately 2,500 lights prior to Thanksgiving and the lights will be switched on at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, to wrap up Shop Small Saturday activities in Downtown Nampa.
The tree lighting ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will feature Christmas music, a kickoff of the Salvation Army’s Kettle Drive, free hot chocolate and cider and time with Santa Claus after the tree lighting so parents can take photos.
Free horse-driven carriage rides will be available on Saturday between 1 and 5 p.m. in Downtown Nampa, thanks to the Downtown Business Association and the following sponsors: Idaho Central Credit Union, Qualitree, D.L. Evans Bank, Mountain America Credit Union, Washington Trust Bank and Intermountain Gas Co. The sponsors also helped pay for some additional lighted snowflakes on light poles in Downtown Nampa.
An anonymous private donation of $22,391 covered the expense to create a permanent home for the Downtown Christmas tree. A custom manhole was installed so the large annual Christmas tree can be prominently displayed in Downtown Nampa, instead of having the tree placed in a small area against a building and supported with guy wires, the tree will be visible as people drive up 12th Avenue.
With the tree in the middle of 12th Avenue at Front Street, thru-traffic will be diverted to 11th and 13th avenues to access the parking lots, and Front Street.