Old Town welcomes new artificial Christmas tree for holiday lighting

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Old Town Albuquerque has a new, artificial Christmas Tree. 

“It’s a staple. It’s something that people look forward to every year,” said Pete Kassetas, the new owner of Plaza Don Luis. 

Crews with Red Shovel Landscaping assembled the 30-foot sequoia replica Wednesday morning. Representatives say the tree comes pre-lit with LED lights and is easier to maintain than the traditional real tree display. 

“Some people have asked me about, ‘oh, how can you change it from the traditional real trees to artificial’ and I think it’s time,” Kassetas said.

The previous owners of the plaza, the Aceves family, used to assemble a massive tree out of 150 real trees brought in from northern New Mexico.

Kassestas says the family was already hesitant about cutting down so many real trees for the display, but then, the family’s go-to Christmas tree farm was destroyed during wildfires over the summer. 

“It’s just not a sustainable scenario, we really wanted to lessen the impact to the environment, and we think this will do it,” Kassestas said. 

The presidents of Red Shovel Landscaping also said members of the Aceves family were needed to assemble the massive display. 

“It’s not something that we could reproduce on an annual basis without the direction of the original creator,” said Kenny Grebe. 

The City of Albuquerque is footing the bill for the new tree. Representatives say it was crucial to maintain the traditions so many Old Town businesses rely on each holiday season.

“We’ve heard even from the merchants in Old Town as well as citizens that they thought there wasn’t going to be a tree,” said Bree Ortiz, the community events manager for the city’s Arts & Culture Department. “The fact that they can bring their family down here for the whole month, shop local support Old Town and be able to continue this tradition and have a tree is really what’s important.” 

Kassetas knows some people will be upset about switching from real Christmas trees to an artificial one, but he believes most people will still enjoy the festive display. 

“I guarantee you this 6-year-old child that comes out here that just so excited about meeting Santa and watching the tree light up, will be very happy with it, and so will the adults.” he said. 

The official tree lighting is scheduled to happen Friday, Dec. 2 during the Old Town Holiday Stroll.

KOB’s Steve Stucker and Albuquerque’s First Lady, Elizabeth Keller, are set to flip the switch. The event begins at 5:00 p.m.

Ortiz says there will be several live performances during the event as well.

Click here for more information on the Old Town Holiday Stroll.