In 2010, shortly after the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza was completed, Aaron and Amy Graham, pastors of The District Church, drove by in their car and decided the Plaza needed a Christmas tree. The next step was figuring out how. A couple meetings with the ANC, permits attained, and volunteers gathered and the first Columbia Heights Christmas Tree was raised and lit for the whole month of December. The following year, with all the busyness that comes with the holiday season and no one to spearhead the planning, there was no tree–much to the disappointment of the community. As a result, Graham and The District Church decided the tree should become an yearly tradition. In 2012, The District Church, local businesses, and nonprofits united around the cause and just like that the Columbia Heights Tree Lighting Extravaganza was reborn. Each year more and more businesses and organizations in the community continue to support the Christmas Tree.
As with every tradition, each year is rich with stories and memories. The lighting is a little different each year, but as the tree shines throughout the month of December, it is a reminder to all who pass by that Columbia Heights is more than just another stop on the metro. Columbia Heights is home to people who love this neighborhood and their neighbors and are committed tothis community. This is the first year that The Columbia Heights Initiative will host the Tree Lighting Extravaganza. It is an honor to be the organization to take on and continue this beloved community tradition. The tree is a visible reminder of the great things that happen when our neighborhood pulls together. As we gather once again on the first Saturday in December let’s celebrate the beauty of this season and the joy that traditions like these bring to our community.