Katie Richmond guessed 100. Her best friend Madison Goforth, 2,000. Alice VanHoose thought it was more than 3,000.
They were all wrong.
Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche said the city’s newest Christmas tree is decorated with 6,000 white LED lights — enough to stretch almost a half-mile.
ConocoPhillips designed and built it, the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and city, along with Homer Electric and Peak Oilfield Services, transported it, each an integral part of a process Micciche called a “cool, joint effort” that came together at the last minute.
The lighting ceremony for the tree, and accompanying bonfire at Soldotna Creek Park, brought a crowd to watch the low-energy LEDs illuminate the night.
“The star is blue, that’s my favorite color and white is my mom’s favorite color, so I think it’s really pretty,” VanHoose said.
Katie’s younger twin sisters Grace and Madison Richmond, 7, stood underneath the tree eating cookies and fudge while the group admired the tree.
Micciche said he hoped the city’s community events — like the tree and bonfire — would build good memories for community members.
“It’s dark here and we want folks to celebrate the winter and sometimes it’s a little easier to celebrate with a little bit of brightness in the middle of a longer winter night,” Micciche said. “I think psychologically it sends them a nice message and we’ve had a lot of positive, supportive comments.”
Despite the volume of lights on the tree, it was powered by one small extension cord at its base.
“They last many years longer so we hopefully won’t be re-stringing this tree every year,” he said.
Micciche said he applauded the private money and effort that went into bringing the tree into the city.
“Some people might complain about us using city resources for these kinds of things and our community is a pretty amazing place where people come together and private businesses will come together to make these things happen,” he said. “The businesses that have operated in this area have consistently contributed to projects like this, very generously for a number of years, it’s kind of cool.”
Rashah McChesney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.