12/5: Radford Tree Lighting & Parade
This year the Radford Public Library will celebrate its 15th annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Tuesday, December 5 starting at 5 PM. This family-friendly event will feature free photos with Santa and performances by the Radford University Women’s Chorale and in interactive production by the Grove United Methodist Handbell Choir. A ukulele band, comprised of Library staff, community musicians and members of the String Theory band, will entertain outside and lead a festive sing-a-long when the tree is lit at 6:30 PM. The Radford Coffee Company will provide chocolate chip cookies and community volunteers will prepare and serve hot cocoa and cider. Radford’s evening Holiday Parade of Lights will follow on Main Street, stepping off at 7 PM.
The Tree Lighting Ceremony has been a community event of different incarnations since 1975. The first Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration was presided over by Mayor Charles Charlton. Held outside the old Recreation building, an outdoor tree was lit while musical selections were performed by the Radford High School Choir.
When the Radford Library was opened in 1980 at its current 30 W Main Street location, the Tree Lighting Ceremonies continued to be held at the Recreation building for many years. The Library took over the event in 2002 and used the large Norway Spruce tree on the Library property as the focal holiday tree.
This special Norway Spruce tree was planted in 1947 next to a War Memorial that had been dedicated in a ceremony on February 22, 1944. Using gold and silver stars to indicate those who had died or were missing, the plaque displayed an Honor Roll of community members serving in the armed forces at the time. Congressman Clifton Woodrum was the principal speaker for the event, and John B. Spiers, a member of the House of Delegates from Radford, acted as master of ceremonies. The community-wide event was honored throughout the City with patriotic decorations. In support of the commemoration, businesses and schools closed and citizens were encouraged to display flags at their homes. A luncheon and parade preceded the unveiling ceremony of the War Memorial.
In 1947 the Radford Garden Club presented the Community Christmas Tree to the City of Radford and the Harvey-Howe-Carper post of the American Legion honored World Wars I and II veterans. Accepted by Mayor Arthur Giesen and Commander W.A. Caldwell on behalf of the City and the Legion respectively, the tree was dedicated on April 10, 1947 while the Garden Club celebrated their 18th anniversary on the same eventful day.