Tree lighting kicks off the holiday season

Windsor will celebrate the holiday season in style when the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Grove returns to the Town Green and the town’s massive Christmas Tree is lit in a celebration on Dec. 5.

The grove will feature 200 lighted, individually decorated holiday trees lining the walkways of the Green. Students, families, groups and local businesses showcase their tree-decorating prowess with their themed trees, which draw thousands of visitors to Old Downtown Windsor for the holidays.

One of the highlights for market manager Tina Castelli is the way the trees bring the community together.

“My favorite part of the event is all the classrooms and scout troops who get to decorate a tree that have been paid for by a local business or group. We have 48 sponsored trees decorated by local classrooms and scouts,” she said. “I also love that multi-generational families come out and decorate a tree together as a family event or as a memorial to a family member. We have 39 ‘family’ trees this year.”

This is the 11th year of the celebration, but the fifth year it’s being put on by, and as a fundraiser for, People4Parks. This grassroots nonprofit helps raise money for parks projects the Town of Windsor can’t afford itself and also helps with funds for other community projects, like Hometown Heroes. Their first project was the fundraising and construction of the new play structure on the Town Green.

Renninger's Electric will be putting on the fun lighting displays again this year, including the rainbow icicle lights and the power to all the trees.

According to Castelli, Brandon Renninger is a second-generation electrician who first worked with his father on the grove at the event’s beginning, and has since taken over the displays himself since the death of his father, in tribute to his father’s passion for community.

This year, the Green’s center pavilion will have some special additions.

“We will be featuring the Schulz Family Tree, a Town of Windsor Tree and a Fire Family Tree in the center pavilion this year,” Castelli said. “The Town of Windsor Tree is decorated by the city council and the Fire Family Tree is a tree for the Sonoma County Professional Fire Fighters Association and they will be decorating it. Froggy 92.9 and Amber and Tanner in the Morning will have a tree decorated with listener notes of gratitude for the first responders.”

Joining the celebrations for the first time will be the Singles and Pairs Square Dance, who will be caroling throughout the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Grove on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 6:45 p.m. until about 8 p.m. They are also expecting a visitor from the North Pole to join in. There will be an exhibition square dance in the center of the grove around 7:15 p.m. There may be other square dance flash mobs throughout the season.  

This year, things kick off on Dec. 1 with a community decorating day for all the trees in the grove. Everyone is invited to enjoy the Windsor Farmer’s Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (and partake in roasted chestnuts, candied almonds, Kettle Korn, cookies and smoothies). Tree decorating gets underway at 2 p.m. 

The official Town of Windsor Holiday Celebration & Tree Lighting will take place Thursday, Dec. 5 and will feature and evening of activities, music and holiday cheer. There will be cookie making, wagon and train rides, youth performers, photos with Santa and local food and treats available for purchase.

This is a free event, and kicks off at 5 p.m., with the tree lighting scheduled for about 7 p.m.

The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Grove will be open from Dec. 5 to Jan. 1, 2019. The Town Green’s trees will be lit up for the holidays with chasing rainbow icicle lights and you can listen to streaming holiday music and shop and dine at local businesses around the Green. In addition, there will be snowfall nightly at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., courtesy of KC’s American Grill.

The success of the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Grove depends on the volunteers who provide hours of service to make this event happen. Assistance is needed for tree attachment on Nov. 30, community decorating day on Dec. 1 and tear down on Jan. 4, 2020. Volunteers should wear weather appropriate clothing and bring work gloves. Liability forms will be required and will be provided for signatures before service. Minors must have parents’ written permission to help.

More information on the event and the organization can be found at

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