This month, some very special preparations for the holidays in Reading are in full swing, with the usual parades and the annual tree-lighting ceremony on the agenda, but also a unique nod to last year’s “Charlie Brown Christmas tree”, which was featured on news stories worldwide.
The annual holiday parade will take place next Saturday, November 21st at 9:00 am. It will begin at the intersection of Penn Street and 11th St, and proceed down Penn until 2nd St. In the event of rain, the parade will be postponed until the 28th of November at the same time and location.
This year’s tree, a 25-foot concolor fir, is already standing tall and proud in Penn Square. Its official lighting ceremony will be held the night before the parade, Friday November 20th, at 6:30 PM. The tree itself was donated by two Berks County residents, Barb and Pat Emmett, the owners of Godfrey’s Welcome to Dogdom in Brecknock Township, and is considered by many to be a significant improvement over its predecessor.
Whatever happened to that ugly tree, anyway? The fate of the tree, which sparked a nationwide debate over whether it was too ugly to display or the perfect way to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas, was influenced by Luke Schultz, a foreman in the city public works department, and Steve Weber, a carpentry instructor at the Reading-Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center.
Both felt that last year’s tree did a great deal to bring positive publicity to Reading, and Schultz, a former student of Weber’s, thought that his teacher could help commemorate the tree in a very special way. So, with the help of the students in the carpentry program, Weber fashioned the wood from the “ugly tree” into a commemorative bench that will be featured in this year’s holiday display.
The city itself has given a nod to the 2014 viral news event by putting up a doghouse, constructed by the Public Works Department, resembling Snoopy’s own residence, as part of its holiday display. The doghouse was placed at the corner of Fifth and Penn streets, representing the Charlie Brown story of which last year’s tree became symbolic.