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Holiday Tree to Light Up State Street After All

Southern California Edison agrees to provide funding for one more year to ensure the downtown Santa Barbara tradition continues

The Santa Barbara Downtown Organization and Southern California Edison are working to ensure the community holiday tree is in its place in front of the Arlington Theatre in time for the annual Downtown Holiday Parade.
The Santa Barbara Downtown Organization and Southern California Edison are working to ensure the community holiday tree is in its place in front of the Arlington Theatre in time for the annual Downtown Holiday Parade.  (Fritz Olenberger file photo /

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper | updated logo |

It’s a signal that the holidays are in full swing when the Christmas tree in front of Santa Barbara’s Arlington Theatre goes up, and that tradition will stay intact, despite a scare that the tree might not take its usual place on State Street this year.

City Councilman Frank Hotchkiss said he learned that the holiday tree might not happen after discussions took place last week between the Downtown Organization and Southern California Edison.

Rumors had been circulating that SCE was considering withdrawing its funding of the tree, at a cost of $35,000 for the 45-foot fir tree, transportation and installation.

But on Monday, Southern California Edison officials said they would come through this year.

“Southern California Edison is working diligently with the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization to get a Christmas tree by next Friday for the Holiday Parade,” according to a statement from Patricia Bartoli-Wible, SCE’s local public affairs region manager.

“This tree will be coming from our Shaver Lake facilities next week, unless there is inclement weather which would present hazardous and unsafe conditions for our drivers.”

The tree is expected to arrive on State Street at 8 a.m. next Tuesday and be installed from 8:30 to 10 a.m. The official lighting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30.

Local media picked up on the story last week, and Hotchkiss said “Southern California Edison got the message.”

“We can’t do this forever, and next year we’ll have to find sponsors, but for now, it’s a wonderful resolution for the holiday,” he told Noozhawk.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 11.20.12 @ 03:43 AM

Awesome news… seems expensive though. How about lighting it up with some Old School lights instead of the horrible “haunted house” sickly blue glare of the LED lights that were on it last year. LEDS for the most part, but mostly the neon glare of the blue ones are sauteed in wrong sauce.

Can I get an, “Amen!”?

» on 11.20.12 @ 11:01 AM

I’m so pleased and relieved to know that a portion of what I pay to Southern California Electric will be used to subsidize the celebration of a religious holiday.  For all of us non-Christians, how wonderful it is to see public funds being used for the benefit of an over-represented minority!

» on 11.20.12 @ 11:59 AM

No, no amens.

If only Hotchkiss and Rowse were as concerned about constructing sidewalks in all the city neighborhoods as much as they are concerned about a Christian light display.

» on 11.20.12 @ 12:46 PM

What generosity from Edison!  I had no idea that this town, where there seems to be money for every goofy idea that comes along, doesn’t pay for its own Christmas tree.  Of course, anything Edison spends ends up coming from its customers at rate-setting time, so I guess it all equals out in the long run.  I do wonder, however, how all the various planning boards and permitting agencies determine that putting big tree in the middle of State Street is safe and appropriate…

» on 11.21.12 @ 12:01 AM

Ridiculous!  The people who asked for this and SCE should be ashamed.  This is just a disgraceful display of waste!!!  I cannot believe people in Santa Barbara, such a wealthy area, feel good about crying poor to get a free Christmas Tree.  I wonder how many hungry people could have been fed with $35,000?  If City Officials felt it was so important to have that tree then they could have had a fund raiser dinner and let the business owners in the area write checks for it.  If SCE has so much money to give away then maybe they could find someone that really has a need.  It would just add more insult if SCE has also found a way to write off this donation to the City of SB.

» on 11.21.12 @ 01:38 PM

Well, of course the donation is a write-off.  Basic tax law; get a clue.

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