(Photo courtesy of Cooper Studios)
The holiday spirit is abundant in downtown Shelton thanks to an ambitious vision from the Shelton-Mason Chamber of Commerce and support from caring residents, community volunteers and businesses who made it their mission this year to celebrate Mason County’s timber heritage.
Shelton, fondly referred to as Christmastown USA, broke the Guinness World Record of most illuminated Christmas trees over the weekend with an impressive 797 conifers lit with strings of holiday lights. The previous world records were set in 2015 at a Hallmark Channel event in New York City with 559 lit trees to promote its Christmas movies and an event last Friday, December 4th in Adrian, Michigan with 676 trees.
“There’s no way we could have pulled this off without our timber partners: Green Diamond Resource Company, Simpson, Port Blakely and Sierra Pacific Industries,” said Heidi McCutcheon, executive director for the Shelton-Mason Chamber of Commerce. “With our forestry partners, we are probably more resource rich than any other place on earth.”
Once dubbed the “Christmas Tree Capitol of the World,” Shelton was the greatest Christmas tree exporter through the 1990s. Today, a town in Oregon holds that honor with one working forest alone exporting nearly 800,000 Christmas trees.
But McCutcheon said the Chamber and others wanted to return to Shelton’s Christmastown USA roots to attract visitors and boost the holiday-themed community celebrations. Within a matter of weeks, McCutcheon said, money donations, in-kind services and support from nearby working forests, vendors and volunteers poured in to help create a record-setting event.
Twice as many people attended this year’s Christmas parade, McCutcheon added, and organizers decided to extend the festivities through next week to accommodate the heightened interest from surrounding communities and tourists outside Washington state to see this Guinness World Record-worthy accomplishment.
“The Christmastown USA spirit sort of waned in past years and this event has reignited that excitement,” McCutcheon said. “You go downtown tonight and the entire place is lit up and windows are decorated with Christmas.”
The trees will remain through December 21st. After that, the 797 Christmas trees will be sold for $10 each for anyone who would like to have a Guinness World Record tree in their home. Proceeds from the tree sales will benefit local charities, including Toys for Tots and Seattle Children’s hospital. The Chamber also will donate many of the now famous Christmas trees to local families in need to help spread the holiday cheer.
“It has renewed the excitement for our Christmas tree history and our sense of community,” McCutcheon said. “I don’t think there’s better time of year to feel that awe and spirit of unity.”
There’s still time to explore the Christmastown USA and the record-breaking tree display at 414 W Franklin St. in Shelton. In addition to the Christmas tree-lit maze, activities include food vendors, craft booths, live music, visits with Santa, gift workshops and plenty of holiday festivities. The Shelton-Mason County Chamber of Commerce has a Christmastown USA Facebook page with additional details and Mason County Tourism has additional details here. Upcoming dates and times include:
- Friday, December 13: 4 – 8 PM
- Saturday, December 14: Noon – 6 PM
- Sunday, December 15: Noon – 5 PM
- Friday, December 20: 4 – 8 PM
- Saturday, December 21: Noon – 5 PM