The year was 1962. Packy the elephant was the biggest draw in Portland. John F. Kennedy was the newly elected President of the United States, and Mark Hatfield was the Governor of Oregon. Gas cost 31 cents per gallon, and the average house sold for $15,000.
In a small room at a local church, a group of people gathered to discuss the possibility of bringing something new to the City of Roses . . . a Singing Christmas Tree! With optimism, zeal, a budget of $500 and lots of faith, these “pioneers” began what has become Portland’s premiere destination to kick off the holiday season where CHRISTMAS COMES ALIVE!
Benson High School’s Auditorium hosted the first performances, where Dave Peters, the first director, and the early founders wanted to give the city a gift. Although Dave Peters was the first, there have been many great directors to follow.
As enthusiasm for Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree grew, so did the demand for seating capacity. The Oriental Theater was our next stop, but not for long. In 1968, the Civic Auditorium completed an entire renovation and the TREE presented one performance to a standing room only crowd. A second year of standing room only crowds made the sale of tickets a must.
What started with only one annual performance quickly grew to multiple performances each year. In 1989, a new concept was born. Instead of one local church meeting the growing need for singers, choir members came from throughout the community.
Over the years, the “community choir” has grown to include hundreds of singers from 131 area churches. Volunteers continue to be the heart and soul of the TREE, giving of their time in front of and behind the curtain to keep this amazing gift to the city alive.
Local sponsorship has been and will continue to be a critical part of everything we do. The TREE has been blessed with sponsors such as: Reser’s Fine Foods and the Reser’s Family, Darigold, KPDQ and 104.1 The Fish, KOIN TV, 104.5 Way FM, , KGW Northwest News Channel 8, The Oregonian and many, many more.
In the spirit of giving, the TREE began making donations to local children’s programs, totaling more than $100,000. Recipients of the TREE’s donations include: Bob Miller’s Needy Kids Fund, Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation,Snowman Foundation, Portland Youth for Christ and Camp UKANDU.
This year we are continuing the spirit of giving by donating tickets to those in our community that would not otherwise be able to attend.
Thousands of tickets have continually been donated to local organizations over the years, including: The Salvation Army, Rock Creek Food Pantry, Freedom House Ministries, My Father’s House, Albertina Kerr, Hillyard Group, Jubilee Transition Home, Sonshine Treasures, the Language and Culture Institute in Oregon, just to name a few.
We would like to personally invite each and every one of you, along with your family and friends, to come experience our new holiday celebration where CHRISTMAS COMES ALIVE!
DON'T MISS OUT!
Portland's Singing Christmas Tree
P.O. Box 20296
Portland, OR 97294