1959 National Christmas Tree topic of Dec. 7 presentation

14 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – It may have been 51 years ago, but for Presque Isle area residents celebrating the Star City’s centennial, the Christmas of 1959 will always be remembered as the year that a 70-foot white spruce from the Parsons Road was selected as the national Christmas tree and officially lit by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

That historic event, the build up to the tree’s selection, and the events surrounding the tree lighting in December of 1959 will be the topic of a free presentation open to the public and led by Kim Smith of the Presque Isle Historical Society in the Edmunds Conference Center at Northern Maine Community College Tuesday, Dec. 7 at noon.

Smith will speak briefly about the history of the U.S. President lighting a national Christmas tree, which dates back to 1923, when Calvin Coolidge began the tradition. She will then talk specifically about the 1959 national Christmas tree, which came from the Alice Sprague farm on the Parsons Road.

In addition to holding a special place in the hearts of people from Aroostook County, the national Christmas tree that year was unique in that it was the first from a private citizen and not from a national forest and it was the first ever used from east of the Mississippi River.

The Dec. 7 presentation will mark the second consecutive year Smith has conducted an historical talk on a topic relating to the holiday season at NMCC. Last December, she led a session on Victorian-era Christmas customs.