This year, for the first time, an evergreen tree will light up downtown Fort Atkinson’s holiday season.
The inaugural tree lighting will be held Saturday, Nov. 30, at 4:30 p.m. in Riverfront Plaza overlooking the Rock River.
The public is invited to attend. Caroling and refreshments will begin at 4:30 p.m., with the tree-lighting commencing at 5 p.m.
Tree Committee members Lisa Tuttle Woods, John Kutz, Gregory Klug, Melissa Willkomm, Laura Alwin, Emily Rueth and Mary Beth Klietz, along with community volunteers, are planning the event at the pocket park, located along South Water Street East.
“I’m really excited; I think it’s going to be gorgeous,” Tuttle Woods said. “It’s a nice way to anchor the community. Winter gets so dark, that it’ll be nice to have a little bright spot.”
Tuttle Woods said the idea for the tree downtown came when she and Alwin were discussing unrelated projects.
“We were working on something completely unrelated,” Tuttle Woods said. “She said it would be lovely to have a tree down in that plaza. So many communities have a square or central location. We don’t have that, but that plaza is so lovely.”
The tree is being donated and delivered by Norm Rabl, anchored by the Fort Atkinson Parks and Recreation and city Engineering departments. It is being decorated with LED lights donated by Goyer Ace Hardware in Fort Atkinson and hung by the Fort Atkinson Public Works crew.
It is being trimmed with ornaments designed and donated by the BASE Fort Atkinson’s Lend a Hand Community Service program, maintained through December by the chamber’s Retail Committee and Riverwalk Plaza Tree Committee, and celebrated at the tree-lighting ceremony by A Matter of FACT with caroling.
“I would love if we could make it happen each year,” Tuttle Woods said. “It’s a really nice thing to have downtown to gather around and celebrate.”
The date of the celebration wasn’t a total coincidence, according to Tuttle Woods.
“We picked Small Business Saturday as a day that made sense to do it,” Tuttle Woods said. “It is a busy day downtown for us.”
The committee had considered the day of the Fort Atkinson Holiday Parade or the Holiday Farmers Market, but ultimately decided the parade would have been too early and the market would have been too late.
Small Business Saturday became the Goldilocks day for Fort Atkinson to celebrate the tree lighting.