Philadelphia kicks off holiday season with tree lighting at City Hall

Listen
The tree is an Abie Concolor/White Fur, features 4,000 lights, and is 55 feet tall. It will be on display until Jan. 2. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Philadelphia’s Christmas tree has been lit up outside City Hall, signaling for many the start of the holiday season.

Organizers of Thursday’s ceremony, which included 6abc, NRG Energy, and Visit Philadelphia, flipped the switch to turn on the multicolor lights, bringing joy to thousands of people who came out to watch the annual tree lighting.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor
The City of Philadelphia’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony drew hundreds to enjoy the festivities at City Hall on Dec. 1, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
The City of Philadelphia’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony drew hundreds to enjoy the festivities at City Hall on Dec. 1, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The Abies concolor, white fir stands 55 feet tall and features 4,000 lights. It comes from Steuben County, New York, which is part of the Finger Lakes region and was provided by L.R. Stutzman & Sons, LLC. The tree was delivered on Nov. 15 and set up the same day.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor
Confetti from the tree lighting got tangled up on a street light on Broad St. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)
Confetti from the tree lighting got tangled up on a street light on Broad St. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

The tree lighting brought back memories for many in attendance, including Carol Quezada Olivo, who came with her new family.

“The tree means bringing our family together, hot chocolate, waking up in the morning and just having the family be together,” Olivo said. “It just represents warmth and comfort.”

Mr. and Mrs. Claus made an early trip from the North Pole to Philly for the occasion. Still no word on who will get coal in their stocking this season. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)
Mr. and Mrs. Claus made an early trip from the North Pole to Philly for the occasion. Still no word on who will get coal in their stocking this season. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

The newest tree ornament, a disco ball, pays tribute to the late Jeff Guaracino, who was behind the 2003 ad campaign “Get your history straight and your nightlife gay” that framed Philly as a gay travel destination. Guaracino led the tourism marketing agency Visit Philly and Welcome America, Inc., which host the July 4th festival. He passed away late last year at the age of 48, after a battle with cancer.

A new ornament added to the City of Philadelphia’s 2022 City Hall Christmas tree is a disco ball that honors LGBTQ activist Jeff Guaracino. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
A new ornament added to the City of Philadelphia’s 2022 City Hall Christmas tree is a disco ball that honors LGBTQ activist Jeff Guaracino. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Headliner Montell Jordan was one of several musical guests. He got the crowd going with a Christmas rendition of his big hit, “This Is How We Do It.”

Other musical performances included Montell Jordan, Julian King, Saleka Shyamalan, Jakeya Limitless, and the Ukraine Children’s Choir.

The tree will be on display at City Hall until Jan. 2.

Montell Jordan transformed his smash hit ''This is How We Do It'' into a Christmas song at the City of Philadelphia’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at City Hall on Dec. 1, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Montell Jordan transformed his smash hit ''This is How We Do It'' into a Christmas song at the City of Philadelphia’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at City Hall on Dec. 1, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Jakeya Limitless performs a Christmas Classic at the City of Philadelphia’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at City Hall on Dec. 1, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Jakeya Limitless performs a Christmas Classic at the City of Philadelphia’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at City Hall on Dec. 1, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
The Ukrainian Children’s Choir performs a Christmas Classic at the City of Philadelphia’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at City Hall on Dec. 1, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
The Ukrainian Children’s Choir performs a Christmas Classic at the City of Philadelphia’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at City Hall on Dec. 1, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Performer Julian King sings a Christmas Classic at the City of Philadelphia’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at City Hall on Dec. 1, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Performer Julian King sings a Christmas Classic at the City of Philadelphia’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at City Hall on Dec. 1, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Get the WHYY app!

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal