Over 4,000 bulbs illuminate live Christmas tree

Snow, carolers and local vendors kick-start holiday season in Cordova

Cordova's newly lit, live Christmas tree shines for the first time during the Cordova Chamber's annual Hometown Holiday Kick-off and Tree Lighting outside the Cordova Center on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

First of the season snow the night before welcomed this year’s Hometown Holiday Kick-off and Christmas Tree lighting in Cordova, just hours after a 7.0 earthquake centered in Anchorage shook Southcentral Alaska.

“Five, four, three, two, one!” counted down Cathy Renfeldt, executive director of the Cordova Chamber of Commerce, who stood with a megaphone on the steps of the Pioneer Igloo on Nov. 30.

An estimated 4,250 light bulbs immediately flickered on, highlighting the city’s new Christmas tree.

At its new location outside the Cordova Center, next to the Pioneer Igloo, the Holiday Kick-off drew a larger than usual crowd, a situation Renfeldt deemed safer than in years past.

“We were able to kind of keep everyone contained within that parking area … didn’t have to spill out into the street,” she said.

The Cordova Jr./Sr. High School Choir sang carols for the growing crowd shortly before decorated fire engines and a sleigh, carrying Mr. and Mrs. Claus, illuminated Main Street.


The new location also made for a larger “warming” area where people could escape the frigid temperature into the lobby of the Cordova Center for cups of hot chocolate, each adorned with a dangling candy cane.

In years past, a live tree was harvested and brought into town to be mounted outside the Cordova Chamber of Commerce. However last year alone, the tree fell three times in three weeks thanks to Cordova’s relentless windstorms. That prompted the location change.

Harvesting the tree was done purely on a volunteer basis, and “we wanted to give them a break too,” Renfeldt said.

Cordova Electric Cooperative donated labor to the Chamber days before the event to hang lights on the tree, which is actually two trees that grew together, Renfeldt said.

CEC also helped clear shrubs from around the unique tree and to ensure decorated Main Street lamp posts were shining brightly.

Renfeldt had special thanks for Jeff Fields, Ben Simpler and Savannah Eike, who were instrumental in helping the Chamber for this year’s event.

“There’s always a lot of community spirit around it,” Renfeldt said.

Following the tree lighting and parade, the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department took their entourage to the Cordova Community Medical Center, where they sang Christmas carols to patients and passed out treats, as they have been doing for the past decade.

From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. the same night, multiple vendors manned booths at the Parks and Recreation Department Holiday Bazaar at Mt. Eccles Elementary School.

The bazaar also provided a great place to use the new Shop Cordova First Passports. For every $20 worth of local spending recorded in their passport, shoppers are entered to win prizes. Passports are due to the Chamber by Jan. 1.

Twenty Cordova businesses are participating in Moonlight Madness this year, offering extended store hours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Friday, Dec. 7, 14 and 21, leading up to Christmas.

Visit the Chamber website at cordovachamber.com/holiday-kickoff to view a complete list of participating businesses.