make WWAY your homepage  Become a fan on facebook  Follow us on twitter  Receive RSS Newsfeeds  MEMBERS: Register | Login

Wilmington Christmas tree tradition taking year off


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The so-called World's Largest Living Christmas Tree will not light up this winter. The City of Wilmington will likely move the tree-lighting to another location.

City Council talked about the move during its agenda briefing meeting Monday morning. The change in plans is necessary because of construction work at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant next to where the tree stands in northern Wilmington. The construction makes access to the site this year dangerous.

"There was talk of lighting the tree anyway and letting people to drive by, but I said, 'Just don't light it. You don't want to draw people to that mess down there,'" councilman Kevin O'Grady said.

O'Grady said this year the tree-lighting will likely move downtown. After that, it's still up in the air. The aging live oak is struggling. O'Grady said city staff will likely suggest several locations for the future, including the current location.

We'll have more on this story on WWAY NewsChannel 3 starting at 5 p.m.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Christmas tree

December 14, 1988, my mama and daddy took my family to see the Christmas tree. The next a.m. my daddy had passed away. It was a special memory and now that we have moved to Wilmington, I had planned on taking my grandchildren this year. I will keep the memory in my heart forever! God bless you all! Have a Merry Christmas!

The Living Christmas Tree Tradition.

I found it so dissapointing that the Live Oak Christmas Tree was not being lit this year. I am 30 years old and for as long as I can remember I have always visited the tree every year. I have a 2 year old daughter and I was truely looking forward to taking her this year. I truely will miss this wonderful tradition.

Not a "silly tradition"

To others, you may see an oak tree with a pole in it being lit up as a silly tradition. For me, and the members of my family, that "silly tradition" represents Christmas memories ever since I was a child. I'm 15 now, and I can still vividly remember the excitement that filled me when I was younger and my mom was taking me and my brother and sister to see the tree. It may not be and actual "Christmas Tree" but that shouldn't matter. A Christmas Tree symbolizes the anticipation of the family coming together and spending time in eachothers company. It doesn't have to be an actual Christmas tree, people understand what its supposed to be. It's intresting to see something else used to represent Chrismas, and I've always openly embraced that. This is a tradition that should be continued.

I do not live in Wilmington,

I do not live in Wilmington, but have been going to the tree since my son was 3. My father was in the New Hanover Regional Medical Center at the time and we just went out for a break and it was the night of the lighting ceremony. We go every year as a family, my son now 18 and my daughter 15 it's just on the those simple, stress free things we look forward to every year, would hate to see it come to an end. Please light the tree!!!

Chhristmas tree memories

We made visiting the christmas tree a part of our Christmas traditions. We loved going to the tree and stopping by Paulson place for a hot dog. So if you going to move the lighting maybe you could make it close to Paulson place We have been going to the tree since 1979. And I have a granddaughter who is a year old this year and have looked forward to starting the tradion with her

The City could use one of the flag poles...

and call it "Festivus For The Rest Of Us" George Costanza's dad did. Let the insults begin :)



Why is it that if you do not

Why is it that if you do not agree with a topic, you have to mock the idea? For those of us that grew up in Wilmington and there are plenty of us left around; this is a tradition for us. Our parents went to the tree, they took us to the tree, we took our children to the tree and now our children take our grandchildren to the tree. It may seem corny to some but for us it is about the memories. There are very few of these places left throughout Wilmington, they have been replaced with shiny more modern buildings to the masses. We don’t have Faircloths by the Wrightsville Beach Bridge, we don’t have the Belk Beery windows that are dressed for Christmas, we don’t have the train ride to go pick up Santa…but we still have this old tree and it has created many wonderful memories for us. If you don’t understand the meaning behind this tree just try to leave this forum alone for those that want to voice their opinion regarding having another landmark and tradition cast aside.

World's Largest Living Christmas Tree

I agree, as a native of Wilmington, the tree has great meaning, as well as the Belk windows downtown and Faircloths. In 2008, my grandmother, mother, myself and my daughter were featured in the Star-News as a very special story for 4 generations surrounding this tree. Traditions seem to vanish on a daily basis.


Just not Christmas

Yes the tree is old, yes in the daytime it looks bad..... However at night there are few things that can match the truly wondrous sight of 5000 lights burning bright on that grand ole oak. At the risk of sounding extremely cheesy and to quote Linus from A Charlie Brown Christmas you honestly need to go see this tree AT Night to appreciate it and I think you will see "its not such a bad little tree after all". It may not be the "airlie oak" but I have gone every year since I was born and I have NEVER been disappointed. It is not Christmas without a trip to see those lights.

A more appropriate place...

Why doesn't someone plant a "future" Christmas Tree in the new park at the foot of the Isabel Holmes Bridge. Until it grows big enough, maybe a large tree could be trucked in. And it would be alot better location and just a few blocks from the current one. Think of the visibility and the welcoming site to the City!

This is NOT a christmas tree

Leave to poor oak tree alone. It's not a christmas tree, it's not shaped like a christmas tree. Leave the poor beautiful creature alone. And I highly doubt it's the largest tree in the world.

World's Largest Living Christmas Tree

Please let the tradition continue. Those of us that grew up here know how much the World's largest living Christmas tree means to this city and the residents. Just because it is old does not make it useless. What if we treated old people the way we treat old things? For safety's sake maybe we shouldn't be able to visit the tree but we should still light it. The lights can be seen from afar off especially coming across the Isabell Holmes bridge, its really nice.

Ooooh, now you've done it!

You've started the annual feud about that horrid monstrosity. You know that when you point out that it's not a Christmas tree, they lose their teenie-weenie little minds....but you did it anyway.

I have to wonder if that once-beautiful live oak would be "struggling" if we didn't cinch that metal pole to it and overheat leaves and branches with lights every year...

I'd recommend that if they really have to have a Christmas tree they opt for a REAL Christmas tree and contract for a large fir to be trucked in, the way any city or corporation does. (Of course, knowing the way Wilmington operates, it would wind up costing five times more than the one in Rockefeller Center and we'd then discover that Saffo's cousin owns a tree farm and trucking company.)

I have to say, a lot of the

I have to say, a lot of the time I do not agree with the things you write.... but that post made me laugh out loud.

You hit the nail on the head with that one!

Thank you for pointing out

Thank you for pointing out the obvious! Awful tradition!

Christmas Tradition

If you are not from here it may seem like "a tree with a pole in it" but it is more than that. The Christmas tree is a Wilmington tradition! I've been going to the tree since I was a little girl and would hate to see that taken away from my children or future grandchildren. Just because things get old doesn't mean that it isn't important. What may seem cheesy to some is happy memories to others.

Going to see the "big

Going to see the "big christma tree" has been a long standing tradition with my family since my parents were children! I have my grandchildren here in Wilmington for the first time and now I find out that the tree is not even going to be lit so we can just ride by and see it!!! There is construction going on all over this town! Wrightsville Avenue and Covil/Independence has been a mess for a good year now but it isnt closed!!! Maybe only native Wilmingtonians can truly appreciate the tradition of going to the "big christmas tree!"

oldest christmas tree alive

I think you should keep the tree just like it has been for the past years it has been up. So all the little kids can injoy the tree with Santa.

It's a live oak, not a xmas tree

I love Christmas and all the celebrations that go along with it, but lighting a live oak and calling it "World's Largest Living Christmas Tree" is silly. First, while Live Oaks are beautiful trees, they are not xmas trees. Second, there are many larger trees around the world that any one could light up and steal this title. Throw some lights on a more appropriate tree in a better location Wilmington.

Wilmington's living Christmas tree

Many of you just don't get it...but then, you wouldn't. You have not lovingly experienced this wonderful tradition that's continued for generations. You wouldn't understand the respect and love Wilmingtonians (whether they still live there or not) have for this majestic creation. It's adorned once a year, but it's known and loved year round from near and afar. Our hearts, faith, and stamina are alive in traditions, and it doesn't matter whether others think it's silly or old. We know that a "substitute" (whether for the sake of construction (ha!)or whatever else some can come up with) is not satisfactory. The time may come for the sake of the tree to make changes, but I hope it will be just that...for the sake of the tree. For now, this beautiful tradition should continue.

Types of Christmas Trees

I have gone to see the Christmas tree for over 50 years. It is a long standing tradition me and my family. Yes, I know it is an Oak tree. However, what states it has to be a certain type of tree to be a Christmas tree? If you look at
you will find Pine, Spruce and others listed.

Those of you who have never gone or taken the time to watch the children's eyes as they walk up to it should. You will see the joy they get looking up at it.

If they move it downtown my family and I will not go. Why, I don't want my kids around all the drinking that goes on at night downtown. The downtown area is not for families at night any more. I would not feel safe so, I would not put my family in the environment.

christmas tree

What a sad sad day!! This is a Wilmington tradition that dates back to when I was little. Who cares what it looks like!! The little children can stand underneath it and be in amazement, visit Santa Claus, watch groups sing, etc. You don't even have to get out of your car to have the experience. What a cozy feeling it is; you can even see it when you cross the bridge! I cannot believe it; so many children will be disappointed!!! Yankees go home!!!

Just think, if our city

Just think, if our city officials would have planted another oak tree just 25 years ago -when they FIRST suggested canceling the tree's lighting ceremony- they would have a new tradition, and a new tree, to celebrate this year. Sounds more like city officials are worried about liability issues around the stalled construction site at the Sweeney Water Plant. This is truly a shame - yet another tradition lost to city red tape and poor planning. I was heartbroken when they canned Santa's visits to the old tree, now the 5000+ lights will be dark for the first holiday season since 1928...Merry Christmas to all, and to all a dark night. I hope citizens in the region express their frustration.

I wonder.......

Will this move be touted later on as a cost cutting venture? Just seems like that, with all the bad press the that Wilmington leaders have been getting, this may come back and thrown in our faces as how they are saving us tax payers money. Let's wait and see......


Let's call it what it is...a metal pole with lights strung from the top. To say it's a living tree is false advertising lol

Christmas tree

it is a real tree with lights, branches, and there is no metal pole and the lights are not just strung from the top it is real everything is real.


You have obviously never actually been there. It's a real tree in the sense that it's a huge oak tree. However, there is a metal pole they attach to the top to hit the hight it makes and give it the huge 20 foot point at the top. It may be the world's largest living decorated oak tree...a christmas tree it is not

Be that as it is

Be that as it is still a tradition to drive around downtown, over the bridges and see the tree or pole as you call it lit. I have seen it in the sky every Christmas I can remember (and I am 37 years old). It would not be the same if it were not lit. I think it is a little sad :-(