Floating Christmas trees in the bay light up Long Beach

The floating Christmas trees in the bay have been a holiday tradition in Long Beach since 1949.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- The holiday season in Long Beach officially kicks off when the floating Christmas trees in the bay light up.

"We actually start the process the Monday following Labor Day weekend," said Superintendent of Marine Maintenance in the city's Department of Parks, Recreation & Marine Eric Woodson.

The Parks Department stages the exhibit every year.

"We transport them from our storage yard and then we actually put the trees together, string the lights on them, replace anything that has been damaged," Woodson said. "We light the trees up Thanksgiving."

Woodson said there are 67 trees placed throughout Long Beach, from Alamitos Bay to Rainbow Harbor. He said the trees are roughly 18 feet tall and each tree has approximately 300 lights.

"They estimate about each tree costs between $1,700 to $2,000," said Trinka Rowsell, Executive Director of Long Beach Partners of Parks.

The nonprofit organization helps support the city's Parks, Recreation and Marine Department and its programs, including Trees in the Bay.

"This is one of the programs that's costly to run," Rowsell said. "Our role is to help offset and to fill in the gaps where Parks doesn't have the funding."

Rowsell said the holiday tradition was started by restaurant owner Don May in 1949.

"He basically wanted to spread Christmas cheer and floated a live Christmas tree in the bay," Rowsell said. "A few years later, it was replaced by a tree replica."

Long Beach Partners of Parks is fundraising for the annual event. For more information, visit their website.

"All the things that are going on is pretty hectic," Woodson said. "To be able to have these trees here and have been going on for so many years, it just gives us that stability and that normalcy."

Follow Rachel on social media:
Facebook.com/abc7rachel
Twitter.com/abc7rachel
Instagram.com/abc7rachel
Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.