Christmas Island Style Christmas tree ready for lighting on Saturday

Roger LaLonde Staff 
 Volunteers complete decorating a section of the 30-foot Christmas tree as Jim Jourdan of Lee County Electric Cooperative is about to lift the section to be connected to other sections. The tree was erected on Tuesday and will be lit during the Christmas Island Style Tree Lighting Ceremony on Saturday night at Veteran's Community Park.

Photo by ROGER LALONDE // Buy this photo

Roger LaLonde Staff Volunteers complete decorating a section of the 30-foot Christmas tree as Jim Jourdan of Lee County Electric Cooperative is about to lift the section to be connected to other sections. The tree was erected on Tuesday and will be lit during the Christmas Island Style Tree Lighting Ceremony on Saturday night at Veteran's Community Park.

More than 30 volunteers from the Italian American Society of Marco Island , along with Christmas Island Style Committee members, Condee Electric and Lee County Electric Cooperative volunteers, worked together to erect the Christmas tree on Tuesday morning.

The Christmas Island Style Tree Lighting Ceremony begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Veteran's Community Park. The actual lighting of the tree, at 7:30 p.m., follows a program of entertainment.

Steve Stefanides, chairman of Christmas Island Style, and Lou Guidarelli, chairman of the Italian American Society Christmas tree decorating volunteers, will pull the switch to light the tree. The emcee for the evening is Dick Elliott.

Performing will be Island Dance Academy, Spotlight Dance Studio, Charter School Jazz Band and Starz singers. Jim Long, who entertains at CJ's on the Bay, will sing "God Bless the USA" and Christmas songs, along with his show songs.

The winners of the Christmas decorating contests will be recognized.

Some 10 years ago the Italian American Society bought the tree and community businesses paid for the decorations.

Greg Schneider of Condee Electric, technical director of the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and vice chairman of all events, completed the electrical rebuilding of the infrastructure with his Condee team. Jim Jourdan of LCEC operated the crane that hoisted each section of the tree into position, adding a few ornaments and star at the top. .

Guiardelli organized the Italian American Society volunteers who sorted out the artificial tree limbs, hundreds of decorations and some helped bolt the tree frame together as the sections were mounted for Jourdan to raise. Jim Minyard of Condee Electric assisted in putting the lighting system for the tree together.

"Years ago we decorated what looked more like a bush," Guidarelli said. He said the society spent $10,000 for the 30-foot tree.

The difference astounds islanders and visitors.

"Now that's a tree," said Wanda Day, Island Style Committee member.

More photos online at marconews.com.

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