Is Louisville Mayor Gregg Fischer the Grinch who stole Christmas? Well, not exactly. The Mayor’s PR elves apparently slipped up and sent out a couple of press releases recently, referring to 50-foot blue spruce being erected by Works Department employees over at Fourth Street Live as Louisville’s “Community Tree.”
The ensuing brouhaha flooded cyberspace with cries of “political correctness” and “Duh! It’s a Christmas Tree!” Even Bill Lamb, WDRB’s resident complainer, protested this apparent disrespect for Derby City’s Christmas traditions.
But the Tannenbaum Tempest was all a misunderstanding, according to Louisville’s Chief PR elf, Chris Poynter. "It's the Community's Christmas Tree," Poynter told WDRB reporter Lawrence Smith (see video below). "You know, we've always called it the Community's Christmas Tree because a citizen from the community has always donated it. So, of course it's a Christmas Tree. What else would it be?"
Graciously fielding a storm of criticism on his FaceBook page, Mayor Fischer resolved this mini-controversy:
“As I’ve commented several places recently—the tree that’s being decorated and lit at 4th & Liberty for Light up Louisville and the new 40 Nights of Lights IS the “Community Christmas Tree.” The word Community distinguishes it from other Christmas trees – such as the 12 Metro Hall Christmas Trees we put up last week. We call it the “Community” Christmas tree, because it is donated by a member of the community every year and because it is a community gathering place. This week, as we kick off a season of many holidays, let’s be thankful for the common heart we share as a city of many faiths. Last, please consider yourself personally invited to Light Up Louisville Friday night -- and to any of the 40 Nights of Lights that follow.”
Nicely played, Greg.
WDRD’s Lawrence Smith reports:
Light Up Louisville begins the day after Thanksgiving (Friday, Nov. 23), with the arrival of Santa Claus at 8:30 p.m., joining Mayor Fischer to insert the magic plug and turn on thousands of lights on buildings and trees of all sizes including the official Community Christmas Tree, which will be at its new location just south of Liberty St. on 4th.
A new holiday activity that people will enjoy, Fischer said, is the addition of a skating rink in the heart of Fourth Street Live. The rink will use a synthetic ice which will ensure its availability throughout the holidays even if outdoor temperatures stay above freezing. The fee for skating is $5 an hour for adults, $3 for children under 18. Daily rates are $10, and a season pass is $40. Skates will be available to rent for $2.
There will also be a new nightly light show called "40 Nights of Lights," which will be four blocks of festival lights with shows set to music each night between the Galt House and Fourth Street Live. It also includes light projections on buildings along 4th Street.
Light Up Louisville and 40 Night of Lights will help ring in 2013 with a light show and fireworks display on New Year's Eve.
Learn more about Louisville’s 40 Night of Lights: CLICK HERE
Schedule of events for Friday’s opening night: CLICK HERE