There’s an old hometown superstar in Bothell, one that has been seen in the pages of the Seattle Times and in international headlines. It has been silently keeping a watchful eye on generations of locals. Now, many are a seeing it in all new lights.
The massive pine tree along Main Street and 102 Avenue Northeast has called the same spot home since at least 1911, and recently, Main Street Antique owner Linda Dorset decided to do her homework on their coniferous neighbor.
“It’s a famous tree that’s brought a lot of happiness to the people of Bothell,” she said.
According to her research, beginning in the mid 1930s the tree was strung up with Christmas lights in an annual tradition.
Local businesses would rally together and finance the decorations, and Nims Electric would wire it up. The lighting ceremony was stuffed with ceremony and tradition, with Santa and his wife making annual visits.
The tree appeared in the Seattle Times in 1968, and was hailed as the tallest Christmas tree in the world by Time Magazine in 1962.
It was such an icon that McMenamins commissioned a painting of it for their Anderson School campus.
The tree sat on the same plot as the iconic Lytle House, which has since been moved to the Park at Bothell Landing.
Dorsey thinks when the house was moved some branches were damaged, causing the tree to be topped in the the late 1970s to save it.
Since then, the tree has remained dark on Christmas.
That is until this year, when Nancy Pipinich, a local State Farm agent, bought the property and moved in Dec. 26 of last year with some plans in mind.
“We wanted an old fashioned Christmas. We wanted one that was a gift to the community,” she said.
So Main Street merchants rallied together to fund a tree lighting this year. Bothell City Manager Bob Stowe rededicated the tree, and Santa rode in on a firetruck.
Despite a lack of advertising, Pipinich said the response on social media brought around 800 people out to the tree for the Dec. 4 ceremony.
The tree was lit by lasers this year, as traditional lights would have cost an estimated $10,000 to install and keep lit.
“We want to have traditional lights on it next year,” Pipinich said. “People can expect it to be a longstanding tradition from this point forward.”
A small historical book or website could be in the works as Pipinich hopes the community will send in either stories or pictures to compile, while making new memories.
“We’re gonna keep tradition, and there’s a lot of rich history in our town,” Dorsey said. “We also have to remember the roots of our community.”
Nancy Pipinich can be reached at email@example.com